Hakai Magazine


One Great Shot: Packing Stingers

Don’t mess with the aggregating anemone.

Authored by

by Patrick Keeling

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green aggregating anemone

The aggregating anemone is so common in British Columbia’s tide pools and shallows that most people wouldn’t give it a second glance. But up close they are otherworldly creatures with amazing structures and behaviors. Underneath a ring of green tentacles are acrorhagi—stubby, specialized tentacles loaded with stinging nematocysts. The anemone keeps these tentacles retracted deep inside its body until it needs to defend its territory from other boundary-pushing anemones.

These creatures are commonly found in small crevasses, making it challenging to photograph them. This shot, taken off Galiano Island, was only possible thanks to a very specialized piece of equipment called a macro probe lens. Long and narrow, with a waterproof tip ringed by powerful LED lights, the lens allowed me to snoop into cramped quarters, snap a photo, and admire the anemone’s strange beauty.