Orange Cup Coral
Looking like an alien spacecraft framed by the stars, a solitary Orange Cup Coral stretches its tentacles out to capture passing bits of food.
Their translucent tentacles bear dozens of small wart-like nodules, each of which house stinging cells called nematocysts, which are used for both defense and to capture food. When the nematocyst is disturbed, it fires a hollow thread into the body of its predator or prey. Predators hopefully flee; prey are snagged and paralyzed, then carried into the coral's mouth in the center of its body.
Orange Cup Corals grow to about 1 inch (25mm) in diameter, and may be found from British Columbia to central Baja California.
Lens: 60mm macro
Location: San Clemente Island, CA
©1999 Garry McCarthy