ECHINODERMATA : OPHIURIDA : OphiuridaeSTARFISH, SEA URCHINS, ETC.

Ophiura ophiura (Linnaeus, 1758)


Ophiura ophiura

Description: A large active brittle star with short straight arms and a large disc. Colour varies from dull grey-brown to sandy-orange. The disc is patterned with obvious plates. There are well-developed arm combs with about 30 fine papillae and 3 arm spines. The proximal ventral arm plates are separated by paired holes or indentations. Disc 30mm., arms 3.5x disc diameter.

Habitat: Lives on the surface of sand or muddy sand, occasionally burrowing shallowly. Moves rapidly on being disturbed, by a swimming action.

Distribution: Found all round the British Isles from low tide mark to 200m at least.

Similar Species: Small specimens could be mistaken for other Ophiura species. Ophiura sarsi is equally large but the outer arm combs have only 9-12 rather broad papillae.

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., 2010. [In] Encyclopedia of Marine Life of Britain and Ireland
http://www.habitas.org.uk/marinelife/species.asp?item=ZB3150

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