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Oulactis Anemone (with eggs or polyps?)

Oulactis muscosa


The amazing Oulactis Anemone, also commonly known as Sand Anemone and Speckled Anemone, loves to cover itself with sand and shell-grit. This species belongs in the family Actiniidae, and all anemones in the order Actiniaria. It appears that this specimen is ready to reproduce, so are these small, yellow-orange structures eggs or polyps? Or perhaps they have been produced by another type of organism and captured by this anemone? Quoting from the reference link: "Sea anemones breed by liberating sperm and eggs through the mouth into the sea. The resulting fertilized eggs develop into planula larvae which, after being planktonic for a while, settle on the seabed and develop directly into juvenile polyps. Sea anemones also breed asexually, by breaking in half or into smaller pieces which regenerate into polyps." The second image shows these objects clearly, and I doubt they would be mere shell-grit simply because of the uniformity of size and colour, plus the smooth, spherical structure of each. They certainly appear to be organic, but I welcome your thoughts.


Freshly flushed ocean rock pools at North Avoca Beach. This species of anemone can be found in South Australia, Tasmania, NSW and southern Queensland, and also in New Zealand.


I didn't notice these small objects at the time, but spotted them whilst viewing this photo on my computer. It's the only photo I took of this specimen and it's not the best quality image, but it will have to do.

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Leuba Ridgway
Leuba Ridgway 5 years ago

Yes Neil. Most look whitish. I read that Oulactis species also have fighting tentacles. anyway, it's ll be great to find out, wouldn't it. Thanks.

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 5 years ago

Leuba, like these? - Maybe. That's a reasonable explanation. A better photo with clarity would help. Anyway, let's see what comes back. I enjoy the mystery :)

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 5 years ago

Wear those fishy specs for a day and you'd have no friends. Except for cats. You'd be followed by lots of cats.

Leuba Ridgway
Leuba Ridgway 5 years ago

Thanks for your response Neil. We'll await expert opinion. I personally think they are acrorhagi -which are fighting tentacles. One of their functions is to deter other anemones from settling to close to them. You can see a couple here
Sorry about my persistence but this class of marine creatures are my favourite.

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 5 years ago

The orange ball shapes. No mucking around - I've just sent an email to the fish person at Newcastle University.

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 5 years ago

I get nervous when a nurse says 'polyps'.

Neil are you talking about those orange ball shapes or the white bits inside the clear tentacles?

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 5 years ago

Thanks, Leuba. I was very lucky to spot these, but I have delved a little bit deeper and have read a couple of research articles (not that I understand all their specialised language), and viewed several videos. Rather than eggs, I think I have spotted polyps. These are large when compared to the eggs I have seen on the videos. I'll share this spotting with my niece who is a diver, and is very interested in marine life. She may know, or at least can share it with those who do.

Leuba Ridgway
Leuba Ridgway 5 years ago

I just happened to see this spotting cross referenced in a recent spotting of Oulactis sp. and wondered if the structures you refer to as eggs are the pale structures within the tentacles. Never seen them contained. Certainly a lucky find if they are eggs.

Hema  Shah
Hema Shah 7 years ago

stunning discovery!.......

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 10 years ago

I can't see my camera at the best of times (thank God for the auto setting), so the best discoveries are made at home. Yes, it's great :-)

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 10 years ago

Ha! Mini nightmare. The 'black hole' of the shorelines to small critters. Isn't it great when you find stuff n pics later.

Neil Ross
Spotted by
Neil Ross

NSW, Australia

Spotted on Jul 27, 2013
Submitted on Aug 3, 2013

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