Ophiothrix fragilis (Abildgaard, 1789)

Ophiothrix fragilis

Description: A large brittle star with long arms. The arms are very bristly with seven glassy rugose spines on each segment. The disc is somewhat pentagonal and bears small spines on the dorsal surface. This brittle star is very variable in colour; red, yellow and orange patterned specimens occur as well as the more common brown or grey ones. The arms are usually banded with dark and light colours. 20mm. disc, arms 5x disc diameter.

Habitat: Commonly found from lower shore to deep water as single individuals beneath boulders or amongst sessile animals, but also occurs offshore as dense beds with several hundred specimens per square metre.

Distribution: Common all round the British Isles.

Similar Species: Ophiothrix luetkeni occurs in deep water off the western coasts of the British Isles but has small spines on the dorsal arm plates.

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). Ophiothrix fragilis (Abildgaard, 1789). [In] Encyclopedia of Marine Life of Britain and Ireland. Accessed on 2024-05-30

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