Anthozoa includes the sea pens, sea anemones and corals, which are benthic organisms that lack a medusa stage and spend their adult life in the polyp stage. The polyps consists of a column and a flattened oral disk surrounding the mouth which bears tentacles and they can be either solitary like anemones or live in colonies, such as corals. They reproduce both sexually and asexually, and they are opportunistic predators that catch prey which drifts near their tentacles. Some species also have symbiotic relationships with zooxanthellae that supply them with more energy.
The two subclasses are distinguished by the number of septa in their gastrovascular cavities: Hexacorallia has 6 while Octocorallia has 8.
Common name: Beadlet anemone
Description: Its base is 50 mm but with span of the tentacles can reach to 70 mm. There can be up to 192 tentacles, almost completely equidistant from each other. Generally in shades of red, but sometimes green, orange or brown.
Distribution: British Isles, Western Europe and the Mediterranean, almost all the way to the equator.
Ieranto: Very common, mostly in the small bay.
Fun fact: It’s called “Pomodoro di mare” in Italian which translates to “Sea Tomato”, but that’s not its common name in English.
Common name: Trumpet anemone
Description: Typically light brown with areas of white closer to the tips of the tentacles. The shape is similar to a trumpet, which gives them their common name. They have a variety of symbiotic relationships, both internally and externally. They can be found in small pools and under stones.
Distribution: United Kingdom, Italy and in some parts of Greece.
Ieranto: Usually hidden in small holes. Small bay (left wall) and big bay.
Fun fact: Tiny perforations prominent when column is well extended.
Common name: Snakelocks anemone
Description: Long tentacles, can reach about 200 in number. The whole organism is about 70 mm across with a tentacle span of around 180 mm. It can appear reddish or greyish brown, sometimes with white or yellow.
Distribution: South and West coasts of the British Isles, Scotland and Mediterranean Sea.
Ieranto: Usually found in the bottom.
Fun fact: Tentacles are rarely withdrawn but are capable of fully withdrawing.
Common name: Star Coral
Description: Clearly identified by the bright orange color and it is found in shallow rocky habitats. It is carnivorous and feeds on plankton. They form colonies on rocks and cave entrances, and have a smooth cup with many tentacles.
Distribution: Southwest Mediterranean and Central and South America.
Ieranto: Quite abundant in shaddy places.
Fun fact: This species is protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) because studies have shown that this species decreases by as much as 50% every year.
Conservation status: Protected (Least Concern) by CITES and Bern convention
Common name: Pig Toothed Coral
Description: The body is often shades of brown with transparent tentacles that can be dotted with red or yellow spots due to symbiotic algae. They can grow to 6 cm in diameter and 2 cm in height. Typically found on rocky areas between 1 and 50 m of depth.
Distribution: Mediterranean Sea.
Fun fact: There have been mass mortality rates of this coral because of rising sea temperatures.
Conservation status: Protected (Least Concern) by international convention
Common name: Daisy anemone
Description: Large, has a height of up to 12 cm, with its mouth being 3-7 cm and can be as wide as 15 cm. It is pale purple to dark purple, and sometimes black. Around the mouth, the colors are paler. It lives on stones in pools and holes until 50 m depth.
Distribution: West coast of Europe, British Isles and Mediterranean.
Ieranto: You need to open your eyes to find them!
Fun fact: Its body is covered in little tentacles, as it has about 500 to 1000.
Common name: Mediterranean Pillow Coral
Description: Compacted into clumps and tubular, 4-5 mm in diameter. Found at shallow depths so the sunlight can reach it. Usually cream or brown.
Distribution: Tyrrhenian Coasts in Italian seas.
Ieranto: Can be found in both bays.
Fun fact: Its main threats are water heating and anchoring from boats.
Conservation status: Protected (Endangered)
Common name: Cornucopic coral
Description: It is attached to hard substrates and it appears to have branches that appear white or transparent, about a centimeter long. It prefers shady environments and are found from surface level to a few centimeters deep.
Distribution: Atlantic and Mediterranean.
Ieranto: Shaddy places in the small bay.
Fun fact: The fact that this species is transparent allows the observation of internal organization.
Exaiptasia diaphana (Rapp, 1829)
Common name: Pale anemone
Description: It is a small sea anemone with its diameter being about 30 mm with a height of 40 mm. It has up to 160 tentacles, all pointed, and the color is mostly translucent, but can be seen as brown-yellowish due to the zooxanthellae. It lives near the surface.
Distribution: Iberian waters, Mediterranean and Red sea.
Fun fact: The color of it depends on the amount of zooxanthellae in the surrounding environment.
Common name: Yellow Cluster Anemone
Description: Usually has 26-34 moderate to long tentacles. They’re usually attached to organic substrates including shells and sponges. It can be found in depths from 6-100 m.
Distribution: Southwest/West coasts of the British Isles and Mediterranean.
Fun fact: Also known as “Margherita di Mare” in Italian.
Polycyathus muellerae (Abel, 1959)
Common name: Madrepore cutter
Description: This species is a colonial species, with branching tentacles on a base. The diameter of each tentacle is 6 mm and has a height of 10 mm. They’re spaced out and are brownish in color with a cavity in the center. Around the edge of the cavity there are little teeth.
Distribution: Northeast Atlantic and Mediterranean.
Fun fact: It is almost exclusively in a cave environment.
Conservation status: Protected (Least Concern)
Phymanthus pulcher (Andres, 1883)
Common name: Flower anemone
Description: Sometimes found in Posidonia meadows, it can also be found between 15-70 m deep and is fixed on stones. There is a central oral disk surrounded by tentacles, 20 cm in diameter. It is seen as yellow and orange, with the tentacles being transparent or yellow. There can be 90 to 120 tentacles, 2 cm long.
Fun fact: The tentacles can have warts on them, mostly the central 24.
Conservation status: Endemic
Common name: Brown anemone
Description: It has a cylindrical column about 15 mm in diameter. There are up to 96 tentacles that can grow up to 20 cm, and is brown or orange, with a white base. It lives from near the surface to 100 m deep inside caves or cracks.
Distribution: Atlantic and Mediterranean.
Ieranto: Small bay, usually can be found in small holes.
Fun fact: During the day, its size is 30 mm high and 20 mm in diameter. At night, it can grow up to 10 cm and reach 80 cm, with tentacles reaching 20 cm!