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

 Picton, B.E. & Morrow, C.C. (2015). Ophiura ophiura (Linnaeus, 1758). [In] Encyclopedia of Marine Life of Britain and Ireland. Accessed on 2015-11-26

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