Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Rottnest Island - Zoanthids (Zoanthus and Palythoa)

In addition to Zoanthus praelongus, I saw a number of other zoanthid species at Green Island too.

It just happened that very recently, Dr James Reimer, a zoanthid expert of the University of Ryukyus, Okinawa, visited this blog and left a comment. So I asked for his help and got the names of these other beautiful animals.

Zoanthus sansibaricus (?) (He said this is a tough one to id.)

Zoanthus vietnamensis (This photo is also in my last fan corals post.)

Zoanthus sp ( related to Z. vietnamensis?)

Zoanthus sansibaricus

Palythoa tuberculosa (or Palythoa caesia) - this one forms a large encrusting mat with short polyps. It just looks like the individual polyps have melted into the large mat.

According to James, this species produces the palytoxin, and that "No one I know eats them unless they have a death wish". Anyway, he added that parrot fish and crabs do consume this poisonous creatures on occasions.

The Wildsingapore.com webpage says that common hairy crabs, filefishes and nudibranchs can eat zoanthids without getting into trouble. Check out their wonderful fact sheet about zoanthids here.

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