Sea Anemone Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Lauren Scott

Lauren has a Master's degree in special education and has taught for more than 10 years.

This lesson will teach you about the sea anemone. You will learn about its features, its habitats, and the interesting ways it cooperates with other living things.

An Undersea Surprise

Snorkeling can be so much fun! You lazily paddle through the warm, shallow water, admiring the colorful beauty below through your goggles. You see what appears to be an underwater garden beneath you. It's teeming with gorgeous flowers in a rainbow of colors. You can't help it - you just have to reach out and touch one of these incredible flowers, when…OUCH! Not only did that 'flower' sting, but it seemed to stick to your fingers! You just had a surprise introduction to a sea anemone.

Sea Anemone Features

It may look like a flower, but the sea anemone is actually an animal. It is an invertebrate, meaning it doesn't have a backbone, and it is closely related to jellyfish and coral. The smallest sea anemone is only half an inch across, while the largest anemone can grow up to 6 feet across. Sea anemones have soft bodies with stinging tentacles streaming from the top. The mouth is the only opening in its body, and is located in the center of the disc that supports the tentacles. The anemone's base helps it stick to rocks. Anemones can move very slowly, but they don't go very far.

Sea anemones can be very colorful. Some people think they look like flowers.
green sea anemone

Sea anemones are found in saltwater sea or ocean habitats all over the world. Many live in warmer climates, but they are also found in colder climates. People like to keep them in aquariums, but they require a lot of special care. A healthy sea anemone can live more than 50 years.

Harpoon Hunters

Sea anemones are predatory animals with a varied diet. They capture almost any small prey that drifts by, including small crustaceans, plankton, and fish. It may be hard to imagine a sea anemone, which barely moves, catching a swimming fish...but that's where the stinging tentacles come in! Sea anemone tentacles are sticky and full of stinging cells. If you looked at the stinging cells under a microscope, they would look like tiny harpoons. When prey animals brush up against the tentacles, it triggers the stinging cells, which stick into the prey's body. Venom stops the prey from moving, and then the tentacles pull the food into the anemone's mouth.

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