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Epiactis australiensis (Family Actiniidae)

Brooding Anemone


Epiactis australiensis known only from Australia lives in high latitude locations from the Eyre Peninsula, South Australia to Victoria and northern Tasmania. (VIC, TAS, SA)


The Brooding Anemone is characterised by the presence of stinging vesicles between and at the base of its tentacles. This feature sets it apart from other species in this common genus. It is brown-red, bright red, dark green or pale pink, and grows to 22 mm in width and 32 mm in length. Up to 60 conical tentacles that grow to at least 6 mm in length are present.

Ecology/Way of Life:

Epiactis australiensis is commonly found on or under rocks in the intertidal zone. It has also been recorded to depths of 30 m on sandy bottoms. Other species of Epiactis are known to brood their young internally, but this has not been confirmed for Epiactis australiensis.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

There are no known threats to the Brooding Anemone. However, little is known about the reproductive output of this species, so caution should be taken when coastal development takes place within it's habitat.

Other Comments:

This is one of the least understood anemones of Australia's shores. It is remarkable that so little is known of a species that is commonly found in the intertidal zone. No common names are known to have been previously used for this species. Further research is necessary to confirm the status of this species. In the original description of this species, it was noted that Epiactis australiensis may actually belong to E. thompsoni. Both species have been recorded from southern Australian locations, but E. thompsoni is also recorded from New Zealand.

Further Reading:

Carlgren, O. (1954) Actiniaria and Zoantharia from South and West Australia with comments upon some Actiniaria from New Zealand. Arkiv for Zoologi 6: 571 – 595.

Edgar, G.J. (1997) Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. Reed Books, Kew. 544 pp.

Fautin, D.G. (2003) Hexacorallians of the World.

Thomas, I.M. & Shepherd, S.A. (1982) Sea anemones (Orders Actiniaria, Zoanthidea and Corallimorpharia) In, Shepherd, S.A. & Thomas, I.M. (ed.) Marine Invertebrates of Southern Australia Part I. Handbook of the flora and fauna of South Australia, Government Printer, South Australia. pp. 161 – 169.


Text & map by Carden Wallace & Zoe Richards, Museum of Tropical Queensland.

Photograph by Neville Coleman.

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