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Oulactis macmurrichi (Family Actiniidae)

Western Sand Anemone



The South-western Sand Anemone has a south-western Australian distribution. It ranges from Coffin Bay, SA, around south-western shores to Perth, WA (SA, WA).


The South-western Sand Anemone differs from its close relation, the Eastern Sand Anemone, O. muscosa, only by colour difference. In the western form, the colour of the column is reddish-brown or green to light purple, with light green tentacles. In the eastern form, the colour of the tentacles is pale green to greyish-white, marked with horizontal black bands. It grows to 60-80 mm across.

All members of the Actiniidae family have a well-developed pedal disc, with the column being smooth in its lower part. They have rather short tentacles and are arranged in sets of six (hexamerous). Marginal spherules occur on the column just below the tentacles.

Ecology/Way of Life:

The South-western Sand Anemone is found at mid- to low-tidal levels on low- to high-energy shores, as well as in rockpools. Both sand anemones occur in similar habitats and exhibit the same behaviours. Except for the slight difference in colouration, there is little to distinguish them. Therefore, the South-western Sand Anemone, O. macmurrichi may not be a separate species. The range of the two species might overlap a little near Spencers Gulf, SA. Studies that would investigate the possible hybridisation between the two populations could solve this problem.

Preferred Image

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

The range of this anemone is restricted to south-western Australia where there is sparse human habitation over long lengths of coastline. Therefore, if this is a separate species, then it probably isn't under threat from human activity. More research is required on the validity of this species.

Further Reading:

Bennett, I. (1987). W. J. Dakin's classic study: Australian Seashores: a guide to the temperate shores for the beach-lover, the naturalist, the shore-fisherman and the student. Angus & Robertson.

Davey, K. (1998) A Photographic Guide to Seashore Life of Australia. p.32, New Holland Press, Sydney.

Edgar, G.J. (1997). Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. p.127, Reed.

Shepherd, S. A. & Thomas, I. M. (1989). Marine Invertebrates of Southern Australia. Pt. II. p.167, South Australian Govt. Printing.


Text, map and photograph by Keith Davey.

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Images and Multi-media:  
Attached Image  
image/jpeg 33286 bytes Western Sand Anemone
Distribution Map  
image/gif 933 bytes Distribution of Western Sand Anemone

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