After sharing this post in 2013, I was always fasinated by how it kept being discussed many years later. I never really considered 'the red blob' as important either. I thought they were useless things too....Seamas Mac an Iomaire, chronicling the shores of Connemara a century ago, sea anemones were "useless things". "The crabs don't even like them, and very little else can be said about them." So, lets see why they are so popular?
The red blobs of jelly are actually the Beadlet Anemone (Actinia equina)
Beadlet anemone is probably the most familiar anemone found on Ireland's shores. It is extremely well adapted to life on the shore. It catches its prey with the stinging tentacles and passes it to its mouth. The name Cnidaria comes from the Latin cnidae which means ‘nettle’. All of the animals within this group have stinging cells which they use for the capture of prey and to protect themselves against predators.
Did you know that they are able to move by sliding the base along the substratum? They have even been shown to slowly move away from predators such as sea-slugs when facing attack. They are also aggressive to neighbouring Beadlet Anemones. When the tentacles of two adjacent anemones come into contact, one will sting the other, leading to the other individual being forced to move away!
Amazingly, this is the only species of anemone to brood their young (viviparous reproduction). The anemone begins as a planktonic larval stage where it crawls out of its parent and is free in the ocean for a short period of time. After that, it enters the cavity of another sea anemone and further develops. Once the juvenile anemone is ready to be "born", the "parent" anemone catapults the new individual through the water where it lands and secures itself on solid substrate!
You can find these amazing creatures in rockpools near you. When exposed at low tide, they appear as bright red blobs of jelly, but when feeding up to 192 beautiful stinging tentacles emerge, arranged in 6 circles around the mouth. Although it uses poison to sting their prey, its toxin is not dangerous to people.
After learning more about these 'Red Blobs' I think this gallery will give a sense of thier beauty.
Galway Atlantaquaria, Ireland’s largest native species Aquarium are delighted to present these stories of the shore. Call into the Aquarium to learn more.
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Updated for Nov 2021- Feb 2022
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