Marthasterias glacialis (Linnaeus, 1758)

Marthasterias glacialis

Description: This starfish is large and has five very spiny arms. Each arm bears three longitudinal rows of spike-like spines surrounded by large cushions of pedicellariae. Smaller spines may be scattered between these rows. The spines are white and usually purple-tipped and the animal varies in colour from dirty brown to greenish-grey with purple tips to the arms. Up to 35cm or more in diameter.

Habitat: This species may be found in a very wide range of habitats from sheltered muddy sites to fully exposed rockfaces. Specimens from sheltered sites are usually larger than those from exposed sites.

Distribution: Apparently confined to the southwest and west coasts of the British Isles, also north to Scandinavia.

Similar Species: Small individuals might be mistaken for Leptasterias muelleri.

Key Identification Features:

Distribution Map from BioMar data for Ireland - Google Earth map:  download this placemark (not got Google Earth installed?)

Distribution Map from NBN: Grid map (fast) : Interactive map (slow, requires login to view records) : National Biodiversity Network mapping facility, data for UK.

 Picton, B.E. & Morrow, C.C. (2015). Marthasterias glacialis (Linnaeus, 1758). [In] Encyclopedia of Marine Life of Britain and Ireland. Accessed on 2015-3-30

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