Saturday, May 10, 2014

Anemone appetite

At Cannon Beach, Orgeon, U.S., researcher Lisa Guy from Washington State's Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean and her colleagues observed a strange eating behavior. A giant green sea anemone (Anthopleura xanthogrammica) was eating a cormorant nestling. The immobile invertebrate usually feasts on small fish, mussels, crabs, and sea urchins that wander by. It was perhaps not as unusual as a sheep-eating plant or a pelican ingesting a live pigeon, but anenomes have only been seen eating seabirds on 2 previous occasions. Columnist Douglas Main concludes, "It seems reasonable, then, that the anemones are likely to eat most any meaty morsel with which it happens to come into contact--that doesn't swim or flap away. Although the scientists can't be sure, the seabird was probably dead by the time the anemone got to it. Regardless, don't go sticking your hand in giant green anemones--they will sting you, and then probably eat you. Albeit very slowly."

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