Corynactis californica

Geographic Range

West coast of North America, ranging from Washington state to Baja California.


Corynactus californica are found in abundance on temperate rocky shores and on tropical coral reefs. They can be found anywhere from the lower intertidal zone to at least 50 meters in depth.

Physical Description


All C. californica reproduce asexually by fission and budding. Aggregations of different colors produce polyps of the same color; color of the species appears to be controlled genetically.

  • Parental Investment
  • no parental involvement


Corynactus californicus can be found forming clonal aggregates, which cover large areas of hard substrate. They can be found on rock reefs, where they attain densities of up to 3000 polyps per square meter. They have an aggressive nature and may extrude their mesenterial filaments onto other anthozoans, such as corals and sea anemones. This contact with C. californica causes damage to the organisms.

Food Habits

Corynactus californica extrudes mesenterial filaments onto its prey, which includes brine shrimp, other sessile organisms living within its community, and pieces of dead fish. The mesenterial filaments are used for digestion and absorption of food in the coelenteron. If the prey is too large to take into the coelenteron, the mesenterial filaments are used to digest it externally.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Presence of aggregations of C. californica increase the density of rock oysters and mussels by protecting them from predatory sea stars.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Competition from this species may reduce the diversity of the marine communities in which they dwell.


Ingrid Rouse (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.


Pacific Ocean

body of water between the southern ocean (above 60 degrees south latitude), Australia, Asia, and the western hemisphere. This is the world's largest ocean, covering about 28% of the world's surface.

World Map


the nearshore aquatic habitats near a coast, or shoreline.


animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

radial symmetry

a form of body symmetry in which the parts of an animal are arranged concentrically around a central oral/aboral axis and more than one imaginary plane through this axis results in halves that are mirror-images of each other. Examples are cnidarians (Phylum Cnidaria, jellyfish, anemones, and corals).


structure produced by the calcium carbonate skeletons of coral polyps (Class Anthozoa). Coral reefs are found in warm, shallow oceans with low nutrient availability. They form the basis for rich communities of other invertebrates, plants, fish, and protists. The polyps live only on the reef surface. Because they depend on symbiotic photosynthetic algae, zooxanthellae, they cannot live where light does not penetrate.


Chadwick, Nanette E. 1987. Interspecific behavior of the corallimorpharion Corynactuscalifornica: effects on sympatric corals and sea anemones. The Biological Bulliten, 173: &110- 25.