The Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific recently arranged to use one of our photographs of the tiny Corynactis californica anemone for a huge wall mural, to be hung in the coming month. It reminded me of how cool these small creatures are, and how many times I have hunkered down on the reef to spend a dive photographing them.
The club-tipped anemone, or corynactis anemone (Corynactis californica), is common in the nearshore environment in Southern California and Baja California. Its range extends north to at least Washington. Corynactis californica is not a true anemone, but rather a Corallimorph cnidarian. One of the distinguishing characteristics of these corallimorphs is that their tentacles, which are not fully retractable, end in knobs resembling clubs (hence the name club-tipped anemone). Corallimorphs have a number of physiological similarities to hard corals but lack the hard coral skeletons of corals. The corynactis anemone is often found in large groups covering rocks, wrecks, piers and other hard substrate to which it can cling. These groups take on beautiful colors: pink, red, orange, blue, purple. Corynactis californica can reproduce asexually by longitudinal fission in which case all clones will take on the same color.
A cluster of vibrantly-colored strawberry anemones (club-tipped anemone, more correctly a corallimorph) polyps clings to the rocky reef.
Image ID: 10165
Species: Strawberry anemone, Corynactis californica
Location: Santa Barbara Island, California, USA