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Aggregating Anemone

At the beach, search among rocks and in tidepools, and you may see what look like clusters of flowers. Could they be flowers ‐ or some kind of strange animal? This is the aggregating anemone, usually light green with tentacles tipped pink or purple. As these tentacles spread out under water the anemone does look more like a small elegant flower than the animal it actually is. This anemone is a voracious carnivore that uses stinger cells on its tentacles to paralyze its prey. Anemones will eat almost anything including crabs and then spew out the shell.

The name "Aggregating" Anemone comes from the fact that this animal can rapidly clone itself. Although all the groups of anemones living side by side appear identical, they aren’t. Each group is different and enemies with its neighbors. The clones at the edge are warriors and fiercely defend their group. If a warrior comes in contact with an enemy, they exchange poison darts causing wounds. The warriors withdraw, leaving a corridor between groups.

When the tide goes out, anemones exposed to air retract their tentacles to conserve moisture. They shrink and look more like little green lumps than elegant flowers.

Remember to watch your step when tide pooling so you won't crush or disturb the resting anemones or other tide pool critters.

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