The feeding of a Corynactis viridis corallimorph
Music, Video, and Aquarium
2010 Coral Morphologic
This past week we finally received our long awaited Corynactis viridis from our good friend Dr. Yvan Perez at the Institut Méditerranéen d’Ecologie in Marseilles, France. I collected these polyps this past June while diving in the Mediterranean, and Dr. Perez has been culturing them in his lab in the interim. Laurent Foure, the current curator of the Noumea Aquarium in New Caledonia, also collected us several stunning morphs from a different Mediterranean location before he left for the South Pacific.
Corynactis viridis is an archetypal corallimorph species found all along the cold, rocky coastlines of Western Europe. Its distribution across the Mediterranean is much more sporadic and considerably less common. They are frequently referred to as ‘jewel anemones’, which is a misnomer, as they are not anemones despite their superficial resemblance. Typically, polyps range in size from about 3-10mm in diameter and can be found in a seemingly limitless number of color morphs. What they lack in individual size, however, they make up for in colonial dominance. It is not uncommon for colonies to completely carpet large areas, frequently rocky outcrops and vertical surfaces. As these colonies are comprised of clones, this carpet will be of uniform coloration, creating the illusion of a singular connected organism. Multiple color morphs will often be found living in close proximity, creating a technicolor patchwork of tiny individuals. Their colors are often vibrant with fluorescent accents. Unlike most of our tropical corallimorphs, C. viridis are non-photosynthetic, relying entirely on the capture of plankton by their sticky tentacles. At the end of each tentacle is a small ball known as an acrosphere; a tell-tale characteristic of all non-photosynthetic corallimorphs.
In this video a single Corynactis viridis polyp (about 8mm in diameter) is seen capturing and digesting tiny plankton as they flow past in the current. As the tentacles capture food, they retract towards the animal’s mouth, located at the center of the polyp. The mouth is likewise transformable; capable of extending, expanding, and enveloping food items. The total elapsed time was roughly 12 minutes and sped up 1200% in order to demonstrate the hydraulic muscular contractions and contortions that the polyp goes through while feeding. 470nm LED light is used to highlight the fluorescent orange ring around the outer diameter of the polyp.