Snakelocks anemone

Snakelocks Anemone

Snakelocks Anemone ©Julie Hatcher

Snakelocks anemone

Scientific name: Anemonia viridis
It's easy to see where the snakelocks anemone got its name when you spot its flowing tentacles. But be careful when out rockpooling, those tentacles give a nasty sting!

Species information


Diameter: up to 8cm with tentacles up to 15cm long

Conservation status


When to see

January to December


Snakelocks anemones live attached to rocks on the low shore and in shallow seas down to about 12m. They have a squat brownish body and the long, wavy, snake-like tentacles that give them their name. These tentacles are normally bright green with purple tips and are home to a kind of algae which produces energy from sunlight. As such snakelocks anemones live in the sunniest spots on the shore and unlike other anemones, they rarely retract their tentacles in order to make the most of the sunlight. In addition to the energy captured from the photosynthetic algae, they use their long stinging tentacles to capture prey such as prawns, small fish and sea snails.

How to identify

A large anemone with long, wavy tentacles that are rarely retracted. Their 'body' is a pale greyish-brown with bright green tentacles tipped with purple.


Found around the west of the UK and in the English Channel

Did you know?

Snakelocks anemone cells contain a special protein that makes them glow fluorescent green under ultraviolet light!

How people can help

When rockpooling, be careful to leave everything as you found it - replace any rocks you turn over, put back any crabs or fish and ensure not to scrape anything off its rocky home. If you want to learn more about our rockpool life, Wildlife Trusts around the UK run rockpool safaris and offer Shoresearch training - teaching you to survey your local rocky shore. The data collected is then used to protect our coasts and seas through better management or through the designation of Marine Protected Areas. The Wildlife Trusts are working with sea users, scientists, politicians and local people towards a vision of 'Living Seas', where marine wildlife thrives. Do your bit for our Living Seas by supporting your local Wildlife Trust or checking out our Action Pages.