Brooding Anemone

Brooding Anemone (Epiactis prolifera)

Contributed by TPERP Eileen Frame

Brooding Anemone

Where to find them: Found in subtidal zones, rock benches, surge channels and surfgrass; and often found on Giant Kelp. Most will stay in one location all their life but can hitch a ride on a hermit or decorator crab.

What do they eat: Feed on shrimp & krill; they paralyze with stinging tentacles, then move prey down to their mouth where they devour it whole. If it’s on a crab, it may feed on the crab’s leftovers.

Who eats them: Despite their stinging nematocysts, brooding anemones are a favored prey for certain other animals. Many nudibranchs seem to be immune to the toxin and both eat them and can store the unused nematocysts for their own defense. Predators include the nudibranch Aeolidia papillosa, the leather star Dermasterias imbricata and certain fish.

Adaptations: Often brown to greenish brown, vary in color; may have baby anemone brooding on the base. Mouth is found on top of body with stinging tentacles.

Size: Up to 3” diameter, and does not often exceed 1 ½” in height

Reproduction: Hermaphroditic creature–eggs are fertilized in digestive cavity. Once hatched, they crawl out of the mouth and down to their brooding position. They will stay there until they’re big enough to go off on their own and feed themselves.

What’s their life like: They wash in with the kelp and attach wherever they can.

Interesting facts: They are usually closed when uncovered. If they are left undisturbed underwater for a period of time, they may open and expose their tentacles.

Phylum: Cnidaria
Class: Anthozoa
Order: Actiniaria
Family: Actiniidae
Scientific Name: Epiactis prolifera
Common Name(s): Brooding Anemone

Source(s) of Information:

Life Between the Tides, Brandon & Rokop

Last revised 08-Aug-13