Anemones and corals belong to Class Anthozoa (Phylum Cnidaria). Though not common at Axial, a few different species (currently not identified) have been observed.
Sea anemones are members of the diverse Order Actiniaria, and are commonly found around the world's oceans. Their shape generally includes a central, cylindrical body (or column) with a number of tentacles reaching outward in a radial pattern. While they are mostly sessile, many are known to be capable of some movement, with some species even floating freely through the water column. Although several anemones are known to feed on free-floating particles, the majority are predatory. Their tentacles can be used for hunting and for defense; they sting their prey with a mix of neurotoxins in order to stun them, using stinging cells called nematocysts. Sea anemones have a novel method of body support involving their gel-like mesoglea, which allows the body to deform without permanently losing shape or structural strength. Anemones are found all over the world's oceans, in practically every environment known to man. On Axial Seamount, they have been observed on lava rocks and in the sediments at Axial's base. Size of those that inhabit Axial is less than 20 cm.
(Contributed by Sam Albertson, University of Washington)
Deep sea corals are....
To date, three different anemone species and 1 deep coral species have been imaged at Axial.
This species has been seen clinging to lava rocks on more than a few occassions. It is often this pale pink to salmon color, with numerous, short tentacles. It measures approximately 10 cm.
This small anemone was found at Axial's base, inhabiting the soft, pelagic muds. Its body, or column, is short, with long, translucent white tentacles.
This small, orange-hued anemone is quite squat and nearly flat, with short tentacles. It may be of the type referred to as a Jack-O-Lantern Top.
Only observed once, this fan-like soft coral was clinging to pillow basalts near to the base of Axial Seamount. Corals found in the deep sea are colonial, with tiny individuals known as polyps living among the structure. These polyps are similar in morphology to anemones, but they live within a structure called a corallite. Deep sea corals are suspension feeders, and do not have the symbiotic algae (Zooxanthellae) living among their tentacles, since there is no light for the algae to photosynthesize.