Beatlet anemone

Beadlet anemone

Latin name: Actinia equina
Global Distribution: Western Europe, Mediterranean and from the Arctic the west coast of Africa.
UK Distribution: All around British and Irish coasts
Size: Up to 5cm in diameter
Diet: Small animals such as plankton, crabs and fish
Habitat: Attached to hard substrata on exposed shores, sheltered shores and estuaries. Found on upper to lower shore, rarely in subtidal depths down to 20m.

Beadlet anemones are a common sight on the rocky shore of the UK, resembling small blobs of jelly that may be red, brown, green, or orange in colour. They are well adapted to life on the shore, able to tolerate the heat and desiccation (water loss) that comes with being left out of seawater when the tide goes out. Once underwater, and undisturbed, they release their 192 tentacles, arranged in 6 circles, armed with stinging cells to catch any nearby animal that is small enough to eat. They also use these tentacles to aggressively fight off other anemones until they crawl away or drop off the rock.

These anemones also reproduce by internal fertilisation and release fully formed juveniles from their mouth, whereas most anemone typically reproduce by budding, where fragments of break off and form new individuals.

Fun facts

  • They can hold up to 100 developing embryos in their body before expelling them as juveniles.
  • Their extreme aggression to neighbouring anemones can result in fights that last days.
  • Individual beadlet anemones may have their own ‘personalities’, due to individual behaviors being consistently different from others, which is remarkable given their simple nervous systems.