Friday, September 12, 2008

Sea Anemone of Malaysia's Coral Reef

This is a short write-up of sea anemone for a poster I made for EKOMAR. Hope all of u enjoy reading it :).

"Sea anemone is a close relative to corals. It is members of the Class Anthozoa within the Phylum Cnidaria. It is one of the known organisms that have very obvious symbiotic activity. It feeds on planktonic plants and organisms, but it gets its important dietary supplement from its symbiotic algaes called zooxanthellae. Besides symbiotic algaes, sea anemone mainly from the genera Heteractis and Stichodactyla; also play hosts to certain damselfish, mainly Amphiprion spp., or commonly known as clown-fish or anemone fish. The fish depends on the sea anemone for habitat purposes and the fish helps preen the tentacles, keeping anemones in a healthy condition. Anemone fish immunes itself from the stinging cells of anemone by a combination of unusual swimming behaviour and special chemicals in the coat of its body. There are 1000 species of sea anemones in the world and only ten species are known to be host to anemone fishes. Out of the ten known host anemone, six of them can be found here in Malaysian waters. It is important to understand the distribution of these organisms as they also have biological and chemical influences to the surrounding ecosystem. Sea anemones have been reported as a limiting factor to the development of reef building corals.
By understand this mechanism, a better management of a reef ecosystem can be proposed. Assessment of the reef health research has been ongoing and many potential organisms, which act as an indicator for physical parameters influence, have been introduced, such as Amphipods, which are sensitive to changes in salinity. Sea anemone can also be used as a potential animal as an indicator organism for UV radiation in the marine environment. This is important in giving an in-situ overview of the UV radiation to the marine environment, as marine organism larvae are susceptible to UV radiation. Sea anemones produce many biologically active polypeptides and proteins, which are a very important tool in neurophysiological and pharmacological researches, as blockers and modulators of K+ and Na+ channels. A green fluorescent protein (GFP) is extracted from Heteractis magnifica, which is used in vivo marker in cellular, development and molecular biology. Sea anemone is a well known organism, which has an obligatory relationship with anemone fishes and damsel fishes. The relationship of anemone fishes with sea anemone is mutualistic. The anemone fishes avoid predation by sheltering within the anemones and individuals of some species vigorously protect the anemone from predators, such as fishes of the families Chaetodontidae and Tetraodontidae, gastropods, asteroids, and sea turtles. The number of Anemone fish enthusiasts has increased ever since the ‘Finding Nemo’ animation movie was shown a few years back. Aquarium shops have seen an increase in anemone fish displays, which means an increase in demand by marine aquarium enthusiasts for anemone fishes. This indirectly can cause a decrease of their abundance in the wild, since poaching of anemone fishes is likely to happen to facilitate the increased demand for them. Sea anemones also have other associate organisms, such as the anemone shrimp from the genus Periclimenes, juvenile butterfly fish of the Chaetodon kleinii, and wrasses of the genus Thalassoma. There is a high number of associate organisms that live with and within the sea anemone. The decrease of sea anemone abundance can link to the decrease of many other organisms associating with them. Although many researches have been conducted on the sea anemone internationally, their distribution in Malaysian waters is still scarcely known."

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