underwater photos of jewel anemones Corynactis haddoni
by Dr J Floor Anthoni (2007)
The modest jewel anemone (Corynactis haddoni) may well be one
of the most interesting animal species as it exhibits a high degree of
colour variability. Colour variation in animals is uncommon, as most have
but one costume, even though it may change from its juvenile into its adult
form. Most adult animals exhibit the same colours and patterns within a
single species. For flowers this can be different as some species exist
in various colours, but even here, colour variation in natural flowers
(not hybridised or cultivated) is uncommon for most plant species.
Some fish species display colour variation within a species, and few can
even change colour at will, such as the spectacular goatfish (Upeneichthys
lineatus) and many triplefins in New Zealand.
Like other anemones, the jewel anemone can reproduce asexually by splitting,
which leads to clusters of identically coloured clones, and these patches
join up to amazing quilt works of gaudy colours. The jewel anemone does
not have long thinning tentacles but short ones, ending in knobs. The animals
are also stubby and short and able to live in the wildest of waters. They
are usually found underneath rocky overhangs or on vertical walls where
a diver's torch is needed to reveal their stunning beauty.