by Kevin Zelnio
#18 Actinoscyphia spp. (Phylum: Cnidaria, Class: Anthozoa, Order: Actiniaria, Family: Actinoscyphiidae)
Like its namesake, the "venus fly trap" anemone resembles the plant that snatches up the unsuspecting critter that wanders across its tentacles. Though described in 1920 we are still unclear how many species of Actinoscyphiidae exist. We find them in every ocean basin attached to rocks, stems of corals, tubeworm tubes, shipwrecks, deep sea litter and any other hard substrate. Not every species in the family Actinoscyphiidae looks like a fly trap anemone though. The fly trap anemone is truly unique among anemones, though most anemones are passive predators. That is, the stand around with their beautifully flowing tentacles wavering in the current, waiting for a morsel, perhaps a small fishy meal or a tasty crustaceous snack, to unknowingly drift close enough to the patiently awaiting grasp of the muscular, stinging tentacles trained over millions of years to react in a split second to the slightest of pertubations. Elegant.