Coast & Sea Areas

Wild Harris

Why do Anenomes Feel Sticky?

If you touch the tentacles of a beadlet anemone it feels sticky. This is how the anemone gathers its food – prey items stick to the tentacles, which pass them to the central mouth. What you are feeling is several thousand microscopic harpoons being fired into your skin! These special stinging cells – called nematocysts – are found by the thousand all over the tentacles. When something touches one it automatically shoots out a poison dart which will paralyse and secure the prey. Although they are too small and feeble to get through your thick skin, the nematocysts found in many jellyfish (closely related to anemones) are much more powerful and can give you a nasty sting. In some parts of the world jellyfish stings are so powerful that they can kill a man, for instance the box jellyfish that's found in Australia. Thankfully we don't have anything that bad here, but a lion's mane jellyfish can give you a nasty sting. You can even get stung by detached tentacles, for instance if they become tangled in a fishing line or creel rope. 

 beadlet anemone.jpgBeadlet Anenome    (Photo: Paul Tyler)

A beadlet anemone with extended tentacles

 lions mane jellyfish.jpgLion's Mane Jellyfish     (Photo: Sue Scott)

A lion's mane jellyfish. The stinging cells on this animal are much more powerful and can penetrate human skin.

by Paul Tyler

Next Section