Branching Anemone (Lebrunia danae)
Description. This anemone, though not an uncommon tropical
Atlantic species, is seldom seen because of its habit of dwelling in
reef crevices. Branching anemones attain a maximum diameter of 12
inches (30 cm). Unlike most other anemones, they possess two distinct
types of tentacles: long, unbranched, primary tentacles typical of
most anemones, and branched pseudo-tentacles with forked tips that
contain nematocyst-filled nodules. During the day, the
pseudo-tentacles, which contain zooanthellae, are extended to obtain
sunlight for photosynthesis. In contrast, the primary tentacles are
extended at night to capture zooplankton. It is these primary
tentacles that produce a potent sting.
Range and Habitat. Branching anemones range from Bermuda
south to the Bahamas, throughout the Caribbean, and south to Brazil.
They are commonly found in water 6 to 130 feet (2 to 40 m) deep and
are always found camouflaged in a reef crevice with just the pseudo-
Hazard to Humans. MODERATE TO SEVERE. This species is one of
the most venomous of the Atlantic anemones. Contact produces localized
burning and itching of the skin followed by redness and swelling. In
severe envenomations, fever, chills, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting,
headaches, and prostration can occur. Divers may be stung
inadvertently while reaching into crevices.