Rocky Seabed Animals
In deeper waters, the seabed is never exposed even at low tides and the resident animals are influenced mainly by the type of seabed, water depth and tidal currents which affect food supply. The marine habitats around Harris are very varied and you will find mosaics of rock, gravel, muds and sand. The following animals are more closely associated with the rocky seabeds around Harris
There are many different anemone species living attached to rocks around Harris. All feed in the same way – snaring passing food items with stinging tentacles and passing them to the central mouth. Most anemones are brightly coloured, and many look like exotic flowers. Anemones are most numerous where there is plenty of water movement bringing a constant food supply – in exposed places such as the submarine cliffs of St Kilda they often cover the entire rock surface in a blaze of colour. Although fixed to the rock most anemones are able to crawl around, although very very slowly.
Corals in Harris? Aren’t they only found in tropical seas? You might think so but corals are surprisingly common here. They don’t however grow into coral reefs because most of them are soft corals, without a hard skeleton that’s needed to build a coral reef after they die. There are hard corals here too, but they are solitary animals that don’t occur in the vast numbers needed to build a reef. (there are in fact Scottish reef building corals in very deep water further offshore which have only recently been discovered, called Lophelia).
Corals are closely related to anemones, and share their body plan of a central mouth surrounded by a ring of stinging feeding tentacles. They are however unable to move around like anemones – they are fixed in one spot throughout their life and can only colonise new areas by producing planktonic offspring which settle on new territory.