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Phlyctenanthus australis (Family Actiniidae)

Southern Anenome



As the name suggests, the Southern Anemone is found in southerly latitudes. It has been recorded from the eastern Great Australian Bight to coasts near Sydney. It also occurs on the south-eastern coasts and islands of South America. (NSW, VIC, TAS, SA)


This species has a superficial resemblance to the Bouyant Swimming Anemone (Phlyctenactis tuberculosa), with both species having numerous bubble-like vesicles on the surface of the column. However, the Southern Anemone remains permanently attached to the bottom. The column is cylindrical and covered with large vesicles. The vesicles are often contracted, but when viewed fully dilated, the smallest vesicles occur in the proximal part of the body and the largest below the margin where they are thinly set and form an annulus, thus giving this species a characteristic appearance. It has up to 96 short tentacles and grows to 100 mm long. The column is red-brown, vesicles are blue, and tentacles are red-brown with white bands.

Ecology/Way of Life:

It is usually found on exposed, rocky headlands at the lower limits of the intertidal zone, but may live subtidally to about 15 m.

Preferred Image

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

There are no known threats to the Southern Anemone.

Further Reading:

Dakin, W.J. (1987) W.J Australian Seashores: a guide to the temperate shores for the beach-lover, the naturalist, the shore-fisherman and the student. Angus & Robertson Publishers, North Ryde. 411 pp.

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.

Pastorino, G. (1993) The association between the gastropod Buccinanops cochlidium and the sea anemone Phlyctenanthus australis in Patagonian shallow waters. The Nautilus 106: 150 – 154.

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 Karen Gowlett-Holmes.

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Images and Multi-media:  
Attached Image  
image/jpeg 61780 bytes Phlyctenanthus australis
Distribution Map  
image/jpeg 5907 bytes Distribution of Phlyctenanthus australis

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