Tuesday, 29 July 2014 00:00

Species of the Month, July 2014: Actinoscyphia aurelia, or the Venus Flytrap Anemone

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One of the most frequently observed organisms we saw was during July was the Venus Flytrap Anemone, or Actinoscyphi. We found these organisms on wrecks and many geological structures.  

These anemones gained their namesake via a striking resemblance to the terrestrial venus flytrap, and even functions in a very similar way. Although the flytrap anemone feeds with nematocysts on outstretched tentacles, it does perform the characteristic venus-flytrap-motion as a defensive tactic, further strengthening the resemblance to the plant look-alike.

The flytrap anemone is commonly found at depths of up to 5,000 meters, and is thus classified as a deep sea anemone. While in the Gulf of Mexico, the E/V Nautilus found many of these creatures on shipwrecks, which provide a solid substrate for the immobile anemones. This substrates is crucial for the anemones, as it allows them to remain in a fixed place amidst an ocean current where there is easy access to food. Usable substrate can range from small rocks to anthropogenic structures, and so these anemones are frequently observed on the shipwrecks visited by the E/V Nautilus and NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer.

For more information, visit: http://ocean.si.edu/ocean-photos/venus-fly-trap-anemone-gulf-mexico

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