One afternoon, while looking through a photo archive, oceanographer Kim Martini saw an image that looked like "a purple Butterball turkey being attacked by a lime green scrunchie." Her co-worker, Lisa Guy, corrected her: It's a baby seabird being consumed by a sea anemone.
In fact, Guy — who researches marine ecosystems at the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean — has just published a paper about the gruesome incident in the journal, Marine Ornithology.
On the blog, Deep Sea News, Martini writes:
In Lisa's words, the reason why this is so incredible is this is an "example of an apex predator being consumed by an animal that doesn't seem to really do anything." I would have to agree with that assessment. Anemones are usually only portrayed as being attached to rocks or waving their tentacles slowly in the ocean currents. But these images belie the true predatory nature of these Cnidarians found on the Oregon Coast. Giant Green Anemones are known to eat "small fish, crustaceans and detached mussels." And now we can add Cormorant chicks to that list.
It's…unknown whether it was dead or alive when it got stuck in the anemone, but from its state of decomposition it was probably dead for two days before being found. Regardless, when this photo was taken it was definitely being nommed by the Anemone. Even creepier, in the paper there is a photo of another anemone consuming a severed gull leg….
While this paper solidifies in my mind that anemones are awesomely creepy, it also shows that these immobile predators utilize a variety of food sources when they need to. All I'm saying is that I'll never look at Nemo's Anemone home the same way ever again.
You can read Guy's paper, "Giant Green Anemones Consume Seabird Nestlings On The Oregon Coast," at the journal of Marine Ornithology.