Sea Anemone - Ecology


The sea anemone has an oral disk, which the organism uses to capture prey. The anemone attaches to the substrate using the basal disk at its posterior end. Others also burrow into a weaker object. Some species attach to kelp while others are free-swimming. Although not plants and therefore incapable of photosynthesis themselves, many sea anemones form an important facultative symbiotic relationship with certain single-celled green algae species that reside in the animals' gastrodermal cells. These algae may be either zooxanthellae, zoochlorellae or both. The sea anemone benefits from the products of the algae's photosynthesis, namely oxygen and food in the form of glycerol, glucose and alanine; the algae in turn are assured a reliable exposure to sunlight and protection from micro-feeders, which the sea anemones actively maintain. The algae also benefit by being protected due to the presence of stinging cells called nematocysts, reducing the likelihood of being eaten by herbivores. Most species inhabit tropical reefs, although there are species adapted to relatively cold waters, intertidal reefs, and sand/kelp environments

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