Giant sea anemone devours bird head-first

Giant green anemones (Anthopleura xanthogrammica) are kinda silly looking, with their neon color, round bodies and kooshball-like tentacles.

But their appetite is serious. These predators typically eat small fish, crabs and mussels, which they capture by stinging them. A new paper published in Marine Ornithology describes how these invertebrates also dine on the occasional sea bird. Researchers Lisa Guy, Lisa Habecker and Gretel Oxwang observed this phenomenon at Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach, Oregon.

The video below shows an anemone eating a nestling cormorant:

“It’s unclear how the chick got into the Anemone’s clutches,” writes oceanographer Kim Martini at Deep Sea News. “The chick may have fallen out of its nest or was accidentally dropped there by another predator." The researchers are also uncertain if the bird was even alive when the anemone grabbed it, but from the state of decomposition they estimate it was dead for two days before finding it.

Nonetheless, I think it’s good to heed the advice of Popular Science’s Douglas Main: “don't go sticking your hand in giant green anemones--they will sting you, and then probably eat you. Albeit very slowly.”

Tags: Animals | Oceans

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