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Sicyonis erythrocephala (Family Actinostolidae)

Deep Sea Anemone


Sicyonis erythrocephala occurs in southern latitudes, around Antarctica, ranging as far north as 42°S. Another Sicyonis species has been found in deep waters off the north-eastern Australian continental shelf. (TAS, ANTARCTICA)


Most species from the Family Actinostolidae live in deep waters at high latitudes, and this species is no exception. Sicyonis erythrocephala is a small anemone, growing up to 60 mm long with a base up to 50 mm in diameter. It sometimes has a distinctive hourglass shape due to a constriction halfway up the column. An outer brown layer of tissue covers the white to pinkish column.

Up to 96 pink to tan coloured tentacles cover the disc. The inner tentacles are always larger (to 15 mm long by 4–5 mm basal diameter) than marginal ones (rarely more than 3–5 mm long by 1–2 mm basal diameter). The tentacles are blunt with longitudinal and circumferential grooves when contracted; sometimes a terminal pore may be conspicuous.

Ecology/Way of Life:

This species lives in deep water habitats from 260 to 3900 m with strong currents. Individuals are dioecious (male or female). Eggs have been recorded as bright yellow in colour and larger than 1 mm in diameter.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

There are no known threats to this species, however its deepwater habitat makes it difficult to monitor.

Other Comments:

One other species has been tentatively recorded from the Southern Hemisphere for this genus. However, museum samples indicate a new species may also occur in the deep waters beyond the continental shelf of the Great Barrier Reef. As deep sea locations are surveyed, particularly in tropical locations, it is likely that further records for this genus and other deep sea anemones will be discovered.

Further Reading:

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


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

Drawing from original description by Pax (1922).

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