the different types, suffice it to say that some are specialized for capturing food items (e.g. spirocysts) while others play defensive or aggressive roles e.g. homotrichs) (see den Hartog, 1980, for a complete description of the various types). Nematocysts can be found in tentacles, the swollen tips of tentacles (acrospheres), the mesenterial filaments and the body column, and are used as taxo-nomic characters for identification purposes (see den Hartog, 1980).
Figure 3.2 Some types of nematocysts found in corallimorphs
After Schmidt, 1974
Aggressive interactions in corallimorphs have only been observed in two genera, Corynactis (spirocysts and homotrichs) and Disco-soma (homotrichs). However, all genera possess at least some form of nematocysts, and these can be quite potent, especially in Pseudo-corynactis, and is likely that further studies will bring this to light.
Studies of aggression in the temperate species, Corymactis calif or nica, have shown that these corallimorphs can be quite lethal to adjacent organisms such as sea anemones and corals. Upon contact with an adjacent organism the tentacles will retract and then stretch out again. After a few hours of this behaviour mesenterial filaments begin to appear from the mouth, the tips of the tentacles, the body column, or from the base of the polyp (Chadwiek, 1987). The mesenterial filaments can extend from 1.0 to 42.0 mm from the polyp and completely envelop the neighbouring organism. These filaments are packed with nematocysts and digestive enzymes. Not only can they destroy adjacent coral tissue, they can also digest large prey items and then ingest them (Chadwiek, 1987). Corynactis californica has also been observed to use these filaments to protect themselves
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