While some species of sea anemones (Animalia, Cnidaria, Anthozoa, Actiniaria) are free swimming, most have an adhesive foot that attaches to hard surfaces or anchors them into the sand. As adults, anemones are typically sessile. If their environment becomes inhospitable, sea anemones use their foot slowly move around the bottom or “swim” by flexing and twisting their body.
Nematocysts, microscopic stinging structures located in the tentacles, are used to capture and paralyze prey such as small fish and crustaceans.
Sea anemones are found throughout the world’s oceans. Although the most abundant and diverse populations are found in shallow tropical waters, some species of anemones can live at depths more than 10,000 meters below sea level.
Sea anemones are not endangered species. However, the affects of climate change and human activity on sea anemone populations are largely unknown.
Clownfish have a thick coating of mucus that protects them from the sea anemone’s potentially deadly sting. Living in the anemone provides the clownfish protection from possible predators and food scraps from the anemone’s leftover meals. In return, the clownfish provides protection from some predators, removes dead tissue and parasites, and by swimming, keeps the anemone ventilated.