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Sea anemone, Tealia—(Top) M. Woodbridge Williams; (bottom) George LowerThe National Audubon Society Collection/Photo Researchers
Any of more than 1,000 cnidarian species in the order Actiniaria, found from the tidal zone of all oceans to depths of more than 30,000 ft (10,000 m) and occasionally in brackish water. Species vary from less than 1 in. (3 cm) to about 5 ft (1.5 m) in diameter. The mouth, at the upper end of the cylindrical body, is surrounded by petal-like, usually colourful tentacles that bear stinging nematocysts for paralyzing prey such as fishes. Some species eat only microorganisms. Most species remain permanently attached to a hard surface such as a rock or the back of a crab.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on sea anemone, visit Britannica.com.