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  1. Waratah1_amber-louise_burberry Tentacles out by AL Burberry
  2. Waratah2_amber-louise_burberry Tentacles retracted by AL Burberry
  3. Waratah3_amber-louise_burberry Tentacles retracted underwater by AL Burberry

Waratah Anemone

Actinia tenebrosa


  • Anemones are flower-like invertebrates that have many long tentacles surrounding a central mouthpart which is attached to a hard surface. 
  • At low-tide or when disturbed, the tentacles retract and the anemone looks like a round blob of jelly.
  • Waratah anemones range in colour from bright red, reddish-brown to dark purple and are always attached to hard surfaces.
  • Size:  40 mm

What to Observe

Search area for 30 minutes and record under the following categories-

  • Abundant - found easily with little searching
  • Frequent - found with minimal searching
  • Rare – only 1 or 2 individuals found with intensive searching
  • Not found - not present during search

ClimateWatch Science Advisor

Waratah anemones are affected by coastal development which can increase the amount of solids and pollution in the water affecting their feeding habits and body condition.  Increasing water temperature as a result of climate change will likely affect their abundance and cause a southward shift in their distribution.

When To Look

Throughout the year

Where To Look

  • Common on rocky shores, from mid to low tide levels. Usually found in rock pools, crevices and on the under surfaces of rocks.
  • Shark Bay WA, SA, TAS, NSW up to Heron Is QLD.
 Waratah Anemone distribution map - GBIF

Waratah Anemone distribution map - GBIF



Davey, K. (1998). A Photographic Guide to Seashore Life of Australia. New Holland Publishers Australia Pty Ltd.


Edger, GJ. (2008). Australian Marine Life. The Plants and Animals of Temperate Waters [2nd Ed]. New Holland Publishers Australia Pty Ltd.


  1. Search Species

  1. What Else?

    Two other types of anemones are commonly found in intertidal areas, the green anemone and the sand anemone, both of which can live together with the waratah anemone. Green anemones are bright green, olive or brown in colour and also live on hard surfaces.  Sand anemones are clear to light brown or green in colour and often have horizontal bands on their tentacles. Sand anemones live only in sand (not on rock) and are often covered in sand or grit. Waratah anemones only live on rock and their tentacles are always only one colour. 

  1. Did You Know?

    Their tentacles contain hundreds of stinging cells called ‘nematocysts’ which the anemone uses to sting and immobilize their prey.  These are the same cells that give bluebottles their sting although most anemone species cannot penetrate human skin.

    Waratah anemone have specialised fighting tentacles to do battle with other unrelated anemones. These tentacles come from the acontia, which appear as white spots on the top of the column.

    Can also be found in New Zealand.