A couple of days ago, the Echinoblog (by IZ's Chris Mah) posted this wonderful picture of a withdrawn sea anemone in the family Aliciidae from a recent Okeanos Explorer Dive observed on Ahyi Seamount in the Mariana Islands region at 275 meters.
Dr. Dave Pawson, Curator Emeritus has apparently encountered these sea anemones before! Upon reading Chris' Echinoblog post on the recent Okeanos observations, he shared a “real world” encounter with an aliciid anemone in the Atlantic.
"We picked up one of those in the Bahamas years ago…a small animal that was about 6 inches long when we laid it out in a dish on the mother ship, but when in situ, the tentacles extended out about 1.5 meters! We were looking at this weird animal in the dish, and wondered what the scattered knobby structures were on the body. Could they be “buds” – was the animal reproducing asexually? I touched one of the knobs with a fingertip, and received a jolt that felt like a million volts of electricity! The knobs were masses of nematocysts (stinging cells). My fingertip was very painful for some hours, but it survived; in in fact I’m typing this e-mail with it, in my usual two-fingered manner."
Below is a fantastic picture by Philippe Guillaume of a similar-looking aliciid anemone with tentacles extended. Explore his Flickr page for additional images.
By Chris Mah