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Boloceroides mcmurrichi (Family Boloceroididae)

Swimming Anemone


Boloceroides mcmurrichi has been collected from Australian waters in Darwin Harbour, Northern Territory, Shark Bay, Western Australia and Moreton Bay, Queensland as well as several other Indo-Pacific locations including Japan, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Hawaii. (WA, NT, QLD)


The Swimming Anemone is small and delicate, growing to a height of 3 mm and a diameter of 8 mm. In comparison to the small body size, the tentacles are numerous (more than 400) and long, being up to three times the length of the column. Swimming Anemones are light brown or translucent pale green in colour, with violet-whitish rings on their tentacles.

This species swims by coordinated paddling of its tentacles. The base is weakly adherent and individuals may be seen loosely attached to the substrate or blades of seagrass.

Ecology/Way of Life:

Swimming Anemones occur subtidally to a depth of at least 10 m. They can be found attached to vertical surfaces or in caves amongst stones and dead coral. As its name implies, this species is able to detach itself from the substrate and swim by movement of its tentacles. When detached, it is often found drifting amongst algae.

The swimming anemone can reproduce by both sexual and asexual means. Individuals propogate asexually by budding new individuals from the tentacles. When wounded, tentacles of Swimming Anemones have been shown to develop mouths, columns, and crowns of six tentacles within three weeks. In Hawaii, this species is known to reproduce sexually in spring and asexually in autumn.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

There are no known threats to the Swimming Anemone, however from current records it appears to be restricted to three very small Australian populations so it would be highly vulnerable to local disturbances within its range.

Other Comments:

In Hawaii, this species is reported to sometimes be "so abundant that they touch one another".

Further Reading:

Cutress, C.E. (1979) Bunodeopsis medusoides Fowler and Actinodiscus neglectus Fowler, two Tahitian sea anemones: redescription and biological notes. Bulletin of Marine Science 29: 96 – 109.

den Hartog, J.C. (1997) The sea anemone fauna of Indonesian coral reefs In, Tomascik, T., Mah, A.J., Nontji, A. & Moosa, M.K. (ed.) The ecology of the Indonesian seas, Periplus Editions, Republic of Singapore, pp. 351 – 370.

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.

Fosså, S.A. & Nilsen, A.J. (1998) The Modern Coral Reef Aquarium. Birgit Schmettkamp Verlag, Bornheim, 479 pp.


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

Photograph by Neville Coleman.

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