Language English Photo: Robert Lasalle OngletsDescriptionDistinguishing featuresThe northern red anemone resembles a flowering plant; nevertheless, it is part of the animal kingdom. A dead giveaway is the fact that it possesses a “stomach”. Plants have no need to ingest food, since they use energy from the sun to produce it. In fact, anemones are related to jellyfish, with which they share numerous anatomical features. This anemone clings to rocks at the level of its “foot”. Its body is made up of a smooth red column, sometimes with greenish-grey blotches and dull-green warts, and is topped by a crown formed of some 100 short, squat tentacles that surround the mouth. The mouth additionally serves as an anus, since otherwise the “stomach” has no exits. The color of this marine animal can also be yellowish, orangey, greenish or even greyish-blue. ReproductionThe northern red anemone is a hermaphroditic animal. It is male in its younger years, and female as it gets older. It can reproduce both sexually and asexually. During sexual breeding, males and females release their sperm and ova into the water. Fertilization occurs at random, affected by the currents. The larvae live and feed in the water column. A few metamorphoses are all that’s needed to transform these larvae into little anemones, which quickly attach themselves to the rocky bottom. As noted, the northern red anemone can also reproduce asexually. When it moves about on its “foot,” little packets of flesh come loose and regenerate new anemones identical to the original one. A little anemone can also form through a budding process at the base of the foot. That anemone grows and finally breaks loose to lead an independent life. Like amoeba, the northern red anemone can split in two and then form two new individuals. DietLike all Cnidaria, the northern red anemone has stinging cells known as nematocysts. Those specialized cells contain small poison darts. When an animal touches a tentacle, those little darts are ejected and penetrate the victim’s flesh, which is quickly paralyzed and then swallowed by the anemone. The northern red anemone is especially voracious. It catches and swallows relatively large prey such as fish, shrimp, crabs, gastropods (periwinkles), worms and even starfish. PredatorsWith anemones, defense and feeding go hand in hand. Their stinging cells, the nematocysts, can be used to ward off the attack of a predator. To defend themselves, sea anemones can also retract their tentacles inside their mouth and flush the water from their body in order to offer less to grab hold of. They take on the form of a flattened disc, which is of no interest to a predator. Sea slugs and nudibranchs (sea mollusks that resemble slugs) are the best-known predators of the northern red anemone. Crabs, starfish and certain other fish are also potential attackers. HabitatThe northern red anemone inhabits the coastal waters of the North Atlantic, of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, of the North Pacific and of the Baltic Sea. It can be found to a depth of 100 meters and more, mostly on rocky bottoms. To protect itself from the sun, it often hides in a cave, a crevasse, under an expanse of seaweed or a rocky promontory. Ecology, behaviourThe little green dots scattered over its body are small warts that grains of sand or small pieces of shell stick to and then serve as camouflage elements. Anemones are sometimes so abundant in the Gulf of St. Lawrence that divers call this “carpet of flowers” a bed of anemones. To get around, the northern red anemone can simply detach itself from the rocks and let itself be borne by the current. French nameAnémone rouge du nord, Dahlia de mer Scientific nameUrticina felinaPhylumCnidaria (coelenterata)ClassAnthozoaOrderActiniariaFamilyActiniidaeSizeHeight: 13 cm Diameter of the “body”: 10 to 15 cm Diameter with the tentacles open: 20 cm Life span60 to 80 yearsStatusThe species is not threatened but is sensitive to pollution and to destruction of its habitat. The IUCN has not evaluated the status of the species (2018).