The Colorful Painted Anemone, Urticina crassicornis

A beam of morning sunlight illuminates just a flicker of red beneath a carpet of Ulva. Should you peel away the protective blades to find out what’s resting under the leafy salad? If its the first time you’ve seen this out of place glint of crimson it’s going to be hard to resist.


Beneath the sea lettuce you’ll find Urticina crassicornis, the painted anemone.


Thumbing through my 1993 edition of Seashore Life, collecting insights about U. crassicornis, I came across this gem.

“…the way it hangs down limply when the tide is out is fascinatingly obscene.”

Kozloff doesn’t show this kind vulnerability often so it must have been a powerful impression. I wonder if the Urticina below, one without olive green blotches on the column, comes close to expressing what he was writing about.


I came across the colorful anemones in this post during low tide on the sheltered rocky shores of Orcas Island, WA.


Kozloff, E. N. 1993. Seashore Life of the Northern Pacific Coast. 3rd ed. University of Washington Press.



  1. Wow, I wish I could walk where you walk! In the first photo it looked like a starfish, and then a blob of jelly, and then jelly melting. Obscene was the right word.

    1. Paticia, I apologize for failing to get back to you about this comment, now almost a month old. I wish you could walk there too! Until you do, I’ll keep trying to share what it’s like.

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