Plymouth research into sea anemones

Beadlet Anemone
Image caption The scientists found that the bolder the anemone, the more "blows" they landed on their opponent

Devon scientists have found sea anemones have different personalities.

Researchers at Plymouth University studied the territorial disputes of anemones in Devon and Cornwall.

Jets of sea water were used to startle them causing them to retract their tentacles. The time it took for them to recover was then measured.

Dr Mark Briffa said: "Those that are bold and quickly recover, tended to land more blows upon their opponent and won more fights."

Fighting tentacles

The marine biologist said: "The anemones would typically hide for around nine minutes, but some were noticeably bolder than others. These specimens were the ones that won the most fights.

"People might not think of sea anemones as fighting creatures, but they regularly battle for the best locations."

Anemone tentacles have tiny stinging barbs that fire disabling toxins into their prey, but they also have tentacles that are used purely for fighting.

Dr Briffa added that battles between anemones could last from between three minutes up to two-and-a-half hours.

It is hoped the findings could help broaden the understanding of the factors in disputes and dominance in biology.

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