Members of the genus Metridium, also known as plumose anemones

New Quay, Co. Clare

From Wikipedia:

“Sea anemones are a group of predatory marine animals of the order Actiniaria. Because of their colourful appearance, they are named after the anemone, a terrestrial flowering plant.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Greek ἀνεμώνη (anemōnē) means ‘daughter of the wind’, from ἄνεμος (ánemos, ‘wind’) + feminine patronymic suffix -ώνη (-ṓnē, so ‘daughter of’). The Metamorphoses of Ovid tells that the plant was created by the goddess Aphrodite when she sprinkled nectar on the blood of her dead lover Adonis, and Ovid describes the etymology as referring to the frailty of the petals that can be easily blown away by the wind. “Anemone” may also refer to Nea’man, the Phoenician name for Adonis, referring to an earlier Syrian myth of the god of vegetation, also tusked by a boar.

[“Anemone flowers are wildflowers that grow in many parts of Europe, North America and Japan. The name anemone is derived from Greek which means “windflower.” The name comes from the fact that the delicate flowers are blown open by the wind, which in turn blows away the dead petals as well.

According to Greek mythology, anemones sprang out of the tears of Aphrodite while she was mourning the death of her lover, Adonis. Adonis was killed by the gods due to their jealousy over his love affair with the beautiful goddess of love.

The most significant anemone flower meaning is anticipation. This is because the anemone flowers close up at night and open back up in the morning. Due to its wild nature, the flower specifically symbolizes relaxation and serves as a reminder to enjoy the moment in order to take in opportunities at the right time. According to the Victorian language of flowers, anemone flowers also signify fragility.

According to both Greek mythology and Christianity, the red anemone symbolizes death or the act of forsaken love. While Aphrodite was crying, Adonis shed blood on the anemones that came from her tears and stained them red. In Christianity, red anemones symbolize the blood that Christ shed on the crucifixion.” (Florists’ Transworld Delivery)

…Members of the genus Metridium, also known as plumose anemones, are sea anemones found mostly in the cooler waters of the northern Pacific and Atlantic oceans. They are characterized by their numerous threadlike tentacles extending from atop a smooth cylindrical column, and can vary from a few centimeters in height up to one meter or more. In larger specimens, the oral disk becomes densely curved and frilly.

There are several distinct forms and various intermediate ones.

Johannes Peter Müller has described the variety dianthus as “the most beautiful of all the anemones”. It is indeed an impressive sight with the tentacles fully expanded, resembling a palm tree, but when retracted it can become a low, irregularly shaped, jelly-like disc of unattractive appearance. When exposed to the air by a retreating tide, it does not always retract but may hang under an overhang in a limp fashion looking like a wet glove with a single drop of water dangling at its tip.

M. senile is found on the northwest coasts of Europe from the Bay of Biscay north to Norway and Iceland.

M. senile adheres to rocks, boulders, man-made structures, pebbles and shells. It favours places where the current is strong. Smaller forms inhabit the lower shore where they are found under stones, beneath overhangs and in shaded places. It specially favours soft rocks, honeycombed by molluscs, and the underside of large boulders. At greater depths, the larger forms are sometimes abundant on pilings, submerged pipes, pier supports and harbour walls. In the English Channel the anemones are often brought up when trawling in shallow waters for oysters and scallops. One oyster was found to have twenty anemones crowded onto its shell.

M. senile is a predator and catches small organisms floating past in the current. Its diet largely consists of copepods, worm larvae, mollusc larvae, ascidian larvae, amphipods and barnacle larvae. There are reports of the sea anemone itself being eaten by the sea slug Aeolidia papillosa (“shag rug nudibranch”), the sea spider, Pycnogonum littorale, wentletrap sea snails Epitonium spp., the flounder, Pseudopleuronectes americanus and the black bream, Spondyliosoma cantharus.

M. senile is a protandric hermaphrodite – it starts life as one sex and changes to the other when it is older. Eggs or sperm develop in the gonads embedded in the mesentery that lines the coelom. They are ejected through the mouth, and when fertilised develop into planula larvae. After one to six months drifting in the plankton, these settle and metamorphose into juveniles. By this means the plume anemone can spread to new areas some way from its origins.

The plume anemone can also increase its numbers by asexual reproduction. An individual can undergo binary fission by splitting in half and growing into two organisms. Or it can develop buds which grow into new individuals before becoming detached. Fragmentation, also known as basal laceration, is another mechanism by which the number of individuals can be increased rapidly. In an aquarium, the anemone can sometimes be seen to glide across a hard surface such as the glass wall, leaving fragments behind in the process. After a week or more, each piece can be seen to be developing a disc and tentacles and in due course grows into a new individual.

In 1856, in Torbay, England, a waterlogged board was brought to the surface by a dredger. It was found to have over 400 individuals of M. senile of varying sizes living on it. Those on one side were all white while the other side housed only individuals that were orange. The naturalist Philip Henry Gosse, writing about this, surmised that each side housed individuals resulting from the fragmentation of a single original individual that had settled on the board.

The growth rate of this species is rapid. Juveniles have been found to increase the diameter of their bases by 0.6 to 0.8 mm per day. By the age of 5 months, they have been found to reach an average basal diameter of 45 mm (2 in).”

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