A three year moratorium on the taking of the giant Caribbean sea anemone (Condylactis gigantea) will take effect November 1, 2012 in the state of Florida in an effort to rebuild the populations of this species after it was decimated by a cold snap in 2010 that killed off many anemones and other species.
According to a report on ABC-7, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission initiated the moratorium on the commercial and recreational harvest of this species after commercial harvesters in the marine aquarium trade came to the FWC with their concerns that populations of this popular marine species was declining. FWC’s own data also pointed to a decline in the population of this anemone, commonly called the Florida condy, pink-tipped anemone or purple-tipped anemone.
According to the report, the moratorium on the collection of this species in the wild will give Condylactis gigantea time to rebuild its populations on Florida’s reefs. Staff with the commission will monitor its populations and will reassess and deliver a future management plan for the species in three years.
In 2003 in the Florida Keys, properly licensed marine species collectors for the aquarium trade could harvest 400 giant sea anemones (Condylactis gigantea) per vessel per day. Between 1997 and 1999, it is estimated that 11.8 million Condylactis gigantea were collected, with more than 90 percent collected in the Florida Keys.
Condylactis gigantea grows in lagoons and inner reefs off the coast of Florida and the Caribbean Sea. It grows to around six inches high and 12 inches wide and can move about using a pedal disc that enables it to crawl very slowly. It feeds on fish, mussels, shrimp and other invertebrates, using the toxins in its tentacles to capture and subdue its prey.