Asterias rubens Linnaeus, 1758

Asterias rubens

Description: This starfish has five tapering, blunt-tipped, arms covered with small, scattered white spines. Small specimens are quite stiff but larger ones are rather soft and floppy. The white spines form a definite line down the centre of each arm. Between the spines are groups of soft transparent processes called papulae. Body colour is usually brown to pale orange, in some locations this may be masked by blue or purple. In exposed habitats up to 12cm, in more sheltered sites up to 30cm across.

Habitat: The commonest British starfish intertidally and in the sublittoral. Particularly common on mussels in the shallow sublittoral and on soft sediments. One of the few echinoderms which can tolerate brackish conditions.

Distribution: Widespread all around the British Isles.

Similar Species: Leptasterias muelleri is a smaller species and can be distinguished by its firmer spinier texture and characteristic spines.

Key Identification Features:

Distribution Map: NBN map : National Biodiversity Network mapping facility, data for UK.

WoRMS: Species record : World Register of Marine Species.

iNaturalist: Species account : iNaturalist World Species Observations database

 Picton, B.E. & Morrow, C.C. (2016). Asterias rubens Linnaeus, 1758. [In] Encyclopedia of Marine Life of Britain and Ireland. Accessed on 2024-06-14

[Show species list]