David Fleshler -
The giant Caribbean sea anemone, whose tentacles snatch fish, shrimp and other creatures from South Florida's reefs, is itself frequently snatched by divers collecting them for the aquarium trade.
To help rebuild their dwindling population, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission on Wednesday voted to impose a three-year ban on removing these tentacled creatures from the ocean.
The action came at the request of the Florida Marine Life Association, an organization of commercial divers who collect fish and other sea creatures for the aquarium trade, packing them in water and shipping them alive to hobbyists and shops around the world.
The association said the anemone has suffered a sharp decline in the past few years, possibly from excessive collecting and partly from the cold weather that blanketed southern Florida in 2010.
The anemone, whose scientific name is Condylactis gigantea, is known in the trade as the Condy.
It can reach a width of one foot and inhabits the rocky coastal waters of Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, Pinellas and Monroe counties in Florida.
Worldwide it can be found in southern Brazil and other South American counties, in the Caribbean Sea and around Bermuda.