In Mukim Tanjung Kupang, the locals call them ‘bunga’ but they are otherwise known as tube anemones. They are not actual anemones, but are in the sub-class Ceriantharia: falling in between corals and anemones.
They live in a long leathery tube that is buried about 2 feet under the seabed, but their tentacles can come out to trap food. Some anemones can retract (or pull back) their tentacles when surprised, others retract them at the low tide to retain moisture within their tube homes. If a tube anemone loses its tentacles to a predator, it can grow them back. Some nudibranchs like to dine on these invertebrates.
Tube anemones’ tentacles have two layers – the outer ones are used to trap food, and the inner ones pass the food along to its mouth (the central cavity). These animals come in myriad colours and often seem electrified against the substrate. Their tentacles have stinging cells which help it to entrap small fishes and zooplankton. Some tube anemones like to live in sandy substrates while others like to live in the softer substrate around seagrass, but they prefer areas with strong currents as it helps them catch their prey. This species is also often used in aquariums because of how weirdly beautiful they look.
Kelab Alami runs guided habitat walks in our seagrass meadows during the low tide; this lets you get up close and personal with these amazingly striking creatures in the wild. Log on to www.kelabalami.weebly.com for more information