Species Spotlight: Ghost Anemones

Halloween is for ghouls, goblins and ghost … anemones? Celebrate the spookiest holiday of the year by learning about this unique Chesapeake Bay species!

Published October 31, 2018

Ghost anemones are a unique species of sea anemone native to the Atlantic Coast of North America, commonly spotted in the Chesapeake Bay. This species is on the smaller side, typically measuring just 1.5 inch tall.

Their mushroom-shaped bodies are adorned with 50 thin tentacles surrounding a small mouth. Most have a pink or white coloration, but some appear as shades of green or brown due to algae growth.

Despite its small size, the ghost anemone is an effective and fierce hunter! It has stinging cells on its tentacles, which are triggered by the slightest touch, that can fire off tiny harpoons towards its prey. After injecting its prey with a paralyzing neurotoxin, the anemone uses its tentacles to move the stunned prey to its mouth.

Ghost anemones are the most abundant and widespread anemone in the Chesapeake Bay, but haven’t been observed in the Inner Harbor very often. However, earlier this year, our experts noticed an abundance of this species attached to our floating wetland prototype between Piers 3 and 4.

To thrive, ghost anemones need hard surfaces, such as rocks or reef, to attach themselves to, along with adequate water motion to allow them to catch passing prey with their tentacles. These two necessities are hard to come by in the Inner Harbor, aside from our floating wetland prototype.

The prototype itself is a surface for the anemones to stick to, while the prototype’s aerators below the water’s surface create movement through millions of bubbles.

Ghost anemones join a number of different species and other wildlife that have inhabited the floating wetland prototype in recent months!

Learn more about the floating wetland prototype and our Waterfront Campus project!

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