Red waratah anemone are dark red sea invertebrates that are hard to ignore due to their unique characteristics. Also known as sea squirts, these animals of the mid to low tide zone can hide in rock pools or shaded rock crevices during low tides. They cling tightly to rocks to survive exposure to air and lead healthy lives despite the threats. To minimize risks, they enclose their tentacles within their mouths to appear like red blobs after clicking on the rocks.

What happens when the tide returns? Once the anemones notice they are out of danger, they unfurl their dark red tentacles and start filtering food from the water.

Now we’ve seen how the red waratah anemone survives exposure to air, but that’s not all you need to know about it. In the rest of this article, we’ll take a deeper look at its appearance, diet, habitat, reproduction, threats, and more to help you have a better understanding of the anemone.

Appearance

Red waratah anemone is flower-like and has numerous long tentacles surrounding their large mouthparts attached to hard surfaces. If you observe these specialized fighting tentacles keenly, you learn that they come from the part on the column’s top with white spots. Scientists often refer to it as acontia.  

When disturbed, primarily due to a low tide, these tentacles retract, and this is the moment you’ll see the anemone appearing around as a blob of jelly does.

The anenome on the right is closed
The anenome on the right is closed.

Credit: Toby Hudson Via Wikimedia

An adult red waratah anemone measures approximately 40 mm.

Diet

Red waratahs use their tentacles to capture and immobilize plankton and small fish, their primary prey. Each tentacle contains hundreds of stinging cells, which can also combat anemones belonging to different clones.

This sea animal is also known for its ability can also supplement its diet by scavenging for dead or dying organisms.

Habitat

The red waratah anemone is found in Shark Bay in Western Australia, South Australia, up to Heron Island in Queensland, particularly in coral reefs in the region. You can also find it in plenty in New Zealand in shallow waters, at depths of up to 50 feet (15 meters).

Mature red  waratah
Mature red waratah

Moreover, you can see large numbers of juveniles lining the rock pool fissures. Or, you can see smaller ones living among animals like white tube worms and sea squirts micro-communities.

Note that the anemone does not move around much. They are often attached to a hard surface.

Reproduction

The red waratah anemone reproduces by releasing eggs and sperm into the water, where fertilization occurs. The resulting larvae are planktonic and drift with the currents until they settle on a suitable substrate and metamorphose into juvenile anemones.

It is not uncommon for red waratah anemones to reproduce asexually as well. In aquariums, it is possible to propagate red waratah anemones by carefully dividing the body of an adult anemone into smaller pieces, which can grow into new individuals.

Threats

This anemone has few predators. However, they are highly vulnerable to predation from crabs, some species of fish, and other sea anemones on a high tide.

It’s also important to note that coastal development, which typically increases the number of waste in the water, affects these animals. These animals’ abundance is directly affected when the water temperature rises due to climate change. At the same time, it can cause a southward shift in their distribution.

What’s more, Ocean acidification causes an increase in stress, which weakens their calcium carbonate shells. In other words, you can make these sea animals more prone to various diseases.

Since red waratah anemone is found in coral reefs, which are threatened by various factors, including climate change, pollution, and overfishing, they are also at risk of facing the threat of extinction. But there is much more to cover still.

The most important one that’s worth our attention is the collection for the aquarium trade. Humans often collect the anemone from the wild for aquarium use. This practice can adversely affect its population over time.

While Red waratah Anemone has relatively few threats, as we said before, humans have some work to do. They should address the ones we’ve seen here to protect our marine ecosystems.

Facts About Red Waratah Anemone

  • The anemone has male and female reproductive organs, which can naturally reproduce sexually or asexually.
  • The anemone’s dark red serves as a warning to predators about its toxic stinging cells.
  • This animal feeds on a variety of small prey, including plankton, fish larvae, and other tiny aquatic organisms, which it captures using its tentacles.
  • The red waratah anemone is sometimes collected from the wild for use in aquariums, and this practice can adversely impact local populations.
  • The red waratah anemone is an essential species in marine ecosystems and is a popular research subject in marine biology and ecotoxicology.


FAQs

How do red waratah anemone feed?

Red waratah anemones are carnivorous animals that feed on small aquatic animals such as plankton, small fish, and crustaceans. They have tentacles lined with stinging cells called nematocysts, which they use to capture and paralyze their prey. Once the prey is captured, the anemone uses its tentacles to bring the food to its mouth, which is located at the center of the anemone’s body. The anemone then uses its digestive enzymes to break down the prey and absorb the nutrients.

Do red waratah anemones sting?

Yes, red waratah anemones are capable of stinging. They have tentacles lined with stinging cells called nematocysts, which they use to capture and paralyze their prey. The tentacles of the red waratah anemone are also used to defend against predators. If the anemone is touched or agitated, it will release a cloud of nematocysts in an attempt to deter the predator.

Can red waratah anemos kill human?

No, the stings of red waratah anemones are not usually dangerous to humans, but they can be painful and cause skin irritation. If you come into contact with a red waratah anemone, it is best to avoid touching it or disturbing it in any way. At the same time, if these animals sting you, you can rinse the affected area with salt water to help reduce the pain and swelling.

Are red waratah anemone rare?

Red waratah anemones are native to the coast of Australia, where they are found in shallow, rocky areas of the ocean. They are not considered to be endangered or threatened, but there is little information available about their conservation status.
If you are interested in seeing red waratah anemones in the wild, it is best to do so in a responsible and respectful manner that does not disturb the animals or their habitat.