Description: This species is one of the
few Corallimorph cnidarians found in our area, and the only one in Kozloff's
key. Corallimorphs are not true anemones.
The most obvious difference is that their tentacles
end in knobs (club-tipped tentacles),
as are visible in the picture above. The tentacles
are not fully retractile, and are usually white. Corallimorphs are
also very similar to corals
in some other characters, but lack the hard coral
skeleton. This species is often found in groups, with individuals
up to 2 cm long or even more (photo) (average height
and diameter is 1 cm). May be colored red, crimson, pink, purple,
pale blue, lavender, brown, orange, buff, or nearly white.
Corynactis californica Carlgren, 1936
Common name(s): Strawberry anemone, California club-ray
|A cluster of Corynactis californica at the Monterey Bay Aquarium,
CA. Polyps are 1 to 1.5 cm diameter.
|Photo by: Dave Cowles, August 2010
How to Distinguish from Similar Species: There
are no other anemone-like
species in our area with club-tipped tentacles.
The orange cup coral
elegans is of similar size and often similar color (photo)
but has a hard skeleton and does not have club-tipped tentacles.
Geographical Range: This species is
said to be common in some areas of southern California but I have not often
encountered it. It occurs from British Columbia to San Martin Island,
Baja California but is rarely found intertidally north of California.
Depth Range: Intertidal to 30 m
Habitat: Rocky shores (under rock
ledges), concrete wharf pilings, plastic foam floats. Especially
where there are strong currents.
Biology/Natural History: The knobbed
very large cnidae,
easy to view under the microscope. Undischarged cnidae
have osmotic pressures up to 140 atmospheres. Has been observed in
the lab to defend against attack by Anthopleura
elegantissima by extending its cnidae-rich
through the mouth. This species reproduces asexually by longitudinal
fission. Clones are all the same color. Feeds on copepods,
nauplius larvae, and other small animals.
and Carlton, 1975
and Laurent, 1979
et al., 1980
General Notes and Observations: Locations, abundances,
unusual behaviors, etc.:
Since they do not have a solid skeleton as does Balanophyllia
elegans, the polyps can stretch out quite tall, as seen in this
photo. Taken at Monterey Bay Aquarium by Dave Cowles, August 2010.
These individuals from the Monterey Bay Aquarium show another color
variation--strongly white tentacles.
This view shows Corynactis californica in front and the orange
cup coral Balanophyllia
elegans in the back, to show their similarities and differences.
Note the empty skeletons of Balanophyllia
elegans encrusting the rock. Photo at Monterey Bay Aquarium
by Dave Cowles, August 2010.
Authors and Editors of Page:
Dave Cowles (2002): Created original page
Edited by Dave Cowles, 2005