Woody zoanthids and rolling over rocks

Zoanthids are not actually ‘woody’, but we found some of these soft, squishy animals at Woody Head a couple of weekends ago. These are possibly Palythoa caesa.

Zoanthids in a rock pool at Woody Head

Zoanthids look like small anemones but they are a different sort of animal. They form colonies and survive by a combination of photosynthesis (they carry in their tissues algae that do this and provide them with nutrition) and catching small creatures and plankton with their tentacles, like anemones do.

I’m not sure whether this is the same or a different kind, again at Woody Head. It’s glowy green in the centre.

Green zoanthids

We had a bit of a poke around, looking for other things. If you raise a rock, do so carefully as you don’t know what may be hiding underneath. Place it back gently and in exactly the same position you found it.

Looking for brittle stars, photo by Cath Clark

You may find brittle stars …

This brittle star will grow quite a bit bigger

or dead cowries …

Cowrie shells (on the right, Cypraea limacina possibly)

Cypraea erosa

Underside of Cypraea erosa

and other fun things. Be respectful of the creatures, and happy hunting!

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2 Responses to Woody zoanthids and rolling over rocks

  1. Wow, I would have identified those critters in the first photos as anemones. So they’re a kind of soft coral, eh? (I had to look up “Zoanthids”–it’s a new one on me.) Thanks for the photos.

    One of these days I’d love to visit Australia… it’s on my list…

  2. Joy Window says:

    Thanks, Patricia. I’ll be happy to show you around my neck of the woods (or seashore) when you come. Better sooner than later, though, what with the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef!

    Strictly speaking, zoanthids are not a type of soft coral, but their own ‘thing’. They are animals of the phylum Cnidaria, class Anthozoa (corals), order Zoanthidea. Soft corals are class Anthozoa, order Alcyonacea, while anemones are class Anthozoa, order Actiniaria.

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