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The Seashore

Rocky Shores | Rocky Shore Creatures

Brittlestars

Ophiothrix nigra

Brittle-stars resemble starfish but break the arms off if handled roughly. The one above (Ophiothrix nigra) is is a large brittle-star with long very bristly arms. Arms are usually banded with dark and light colours. The disc is somewhat pentagonal and bears small spines on the dorsal surface. Very variable in colour. Brown or grey are most common with yellow and orange patterned specimens as well. 20 mm across the central disc

Brittle-stars are largely filter feeders, removing plankton and detritus from the water. The larger ones will feed on dead animals.

Commonly found in the lower shore and below into deep water. They are chiefly on rocky seashores beneath boulders or rocks. They are common all round Britain and the European coast including the Mediterranean.

A Brittlestar

 

Brittlestars belong to the class Ophiuroidea which is within the phylum Echinodermata. One of the main group characteristics is the presence of tube feet. In Brittlestars these do not end in a sucker and are used just in feeding rather than locomotion. When disturbed they move fast by pushing against rocks. They all have planktonic larvae.


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