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information on the biology of species and the ecology of habitats found around the coasts and seas of the British Isles

Bloody Henry starfish (Henricia oculata)

NBN Interactive24-04-2008

Map accurate at time of writing. Visit NBN or OBIS to view current distribution

Researched byAngus Jackson Refereed byDr Andrew C. Campbell
Authority
Other common names- Synonyms-

Summary

Description

A stiff rigid starfish with a sandpapery texture to the dorsal surface. This species comes in a wide variety of colour forms, reds, browns, purples and yellows. Sometimes the disc and inner portions of the arms is much darker than the outer part of the arms, as though the animal has been splashed with paint. The dorsal spinelets are more opaque and irregular than in Henricia sanguinolenta.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

All round Ireland except perhaps for the east coast. South-east England round to the west coast northwards to northern Scotland.

Global distribution

South, West and North coasts of Britain and Ireland. West Channel and Brittany.

Habitat

Found on a variety of substrata on open coasts.

Depth range

0 - 100

Identifying features

  • Five tapering stiff arms.
  • Sandpaper like texture.
  • Dorsal spines blunt and covered with skin.

Additional information

Sometimes confused with Henricia sanguinolenta.

Listed by

- none -

Further information sources

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Biology review

Taxonomy

PhylumEchinodermataStarfish, brittlestars, sea urchins & sea cucumbers
ClassAsteroideaStarfish
OrderSpinulosida
FamilyEchinasteridae
GenusHenricia
Authority
Recent Synonyms

Biology

Typical abundanceData deficient
Male size range<200mmMale size at maturity>18mm
Female size range>18mmFemale size at maturity
Growth formStellateGrowth rate0.3 - 1% body wt/day
Body flexibilityMobility
Characteristic feeding methodNot relevant, Passive suspension feeder
Diet/food source
Typically feeds onSuspended matter, detritus layer, sponges, hydroids, ectoprocts
Sociability Environmental positionEpifaunal
DependencyIndependent.
SupportsHost

Asterocheres lillyeborgi

Is the species harmful?No

Biology information

Size at maturity refers to radius. Adults typically around 100 mm.
Stomach eversion is an important supplement to suspension feeding.
The parasitic cyclopoid copepod Asterocheres lillyeborgi has more than a 90% occurrence

Habitat preferences

Physiographic preferencesOpen coast
Biological zone preferencesLower circalittoral, Lower infralittoral, Sublittoral fringe, Upper circalittoral, Upper infralittoral
Substratum / habitat preferencesBedrock, Cobbles, Gravel / shingle, Large to very large boulders, Pebbles, Small boulders
Tidal strength preferences
Wave exposure preferencesExposed, Moderately exposed, Very exposed
Salinity preferencesFull (30-40 psu)
Depth range0 - 100
Other preferencesNo text entered
Migration PatternNon-migratory / resident

Habital Information

Henricia oculata is occasionally found exposed to the air at low spring tides (Campbell pers comm.).

Life history

Adult characteristics

Reproductive type Gonochoristic (dioecious) Reproductive frequency Annual protracted
Fecundity (number of eggs) 100-1,000 Generation time Insufficient information
Age at maturity Not relevant Season March - April
Life span 2-5 years

Larval characteristics

Larval/propagule type - Larval/juvenile development Direct development
Duration of larval stage No information Larval dispersal potential Greater than 10 km
Larval settlement period Insufficient information

Life history information

Females have ripe eggs between March and April, males have mature sperm throughout the year.
Maturity dependent on size rather than age.

Sensitivity reviewHow is sensitivity assessed?

Physical pressures

 IntoleranceRecoverabilitySensitivityEvidence/Confidence
High High Moderate Low
The species is an epifaunal crawler that occupies a broad range of substrata. Loss of the substratum would result in death. Although the adults are mobile they probably don't move long distances so adult immigration is unlikely to play a large role in recovery. The species can live for up to five years and matures at quite small sizes. Up to 500 eggs are broadcast spawned into the water column so larval dispersal potential is considerable. Reproduction occurs over a protracted period so is less likely to be affected by adverse environmental conditions.
Intermediate High Low Low
The species is able to move by slow crawling. It does not typically live on sediment so smothering by sediment may cause locomotion problems. Crawling back up through the sediment may not be possible. Henricia oculata frequently suspension feeds so changing the substratum for one month would have little effect on the ability to feed. Although the adults are mobile they probably don't move long distances so adult immigration is unlikely to play a large role in recovery. The species can live for up to five years and matures at quite small sizes. Up to 500 eggs are broadcast spawned into the water column so larval dispersal potential is considerable. Reproduction occurs over a protracted period so is less likely to be affected by adverse environmental conditions.
Low Very high Very Low Low
Henricia oculata frequently suspension feeds, increased siltation may clog or interfere with this mechanism requiring extra energy expenditure to clear the feeding apparatus. Recovery occurs once feeding is no longer impaired, energy expenditure is returned to normal and condition is restored.
No information
Intermediate High Low Low
Henricia oculata is generally only found subtidally although is occasionally exposed at low spring tides. If it was exposed to the air it would probably not be able to move fast enough to return to the water rapidly. Although the adults are mobile they probably don't move long distances so adult immigration is unlikely to play a large role in recovery. The species can live for up to five years and matures at quite small sizes. Up to 500 eggs are broadcast spawned into the water column so larval dispersal potential is considerable. Reproduction occurs over a protracted period so is less likely to be affected by adverse environmental conditions.
Tolerant Not relevant Not sensitive Low
Henricia oculata is only found subtidally and if the emergence regime changed, it probably has sufficient mobility to move to a location that is not subject to emergence.
No information
Low Very high Very Low Low
The species has sufficient mobility to move out of the area of altered water flow. An altered water flow rate may interfere with suspension feeding ability. The species does not rely entirely on passive suspension feeding but is also an active omnivore. Recovery occurs once feeding is no longer impaired and condition is restored.
No information
High High Moderate Low
The species has quite a restricted global distribution. Long term temperature changes will cause the population to die (or to move location). Rapid, acute temperature increase will probably also cause death. A short term decrease in temperature will probably just cause inactivity. Although the adults are mobile they probably don't move long distances so adult immigration is unlikely to play a large role in recovery. The species can live for up to five years and matures at quite small sizes. Up to 500 eggs are broadcast spawned into the water column so larval dispersal potential is considerable. Reproduction occurs over a protracted period so is less likely to be affected by adverse environmental conditions.
No information
Tolerant Not relevant Not sensitive Low
Behaviour is not dependent on ambient light. The species is found down to 100 metres where light availability is very limited.
No information
Intermediate High Low Low
Wave action in extremely exposed areas may be too great for the species to maintain position on substrata. A change of two ranks means that the species is likely to be subject to lower wave exposure conditions than its preferred range. Although the adults are mobile they probably don't move long distances so adult immigration is unlikely to play a large role in recovery. The species can live for up to five years and matures at quite small sizes. Up to 500 eggs are broadcast spawned into the water column so larval dispersal potential is considerable. Reproduction occurs over a protracted period so is less likely to be affected by adverse environmental conditions.
No information
Tolerant Not relevant Not sensitive Low
The species is unlikely to respond to noise vibrations
Tolerant Not relevant Not sensitive Low
Starfish have photoreceptors but cannot resolve moving objects so will not respond to visual disturbance.
Low Very high Very Low Low
Physical disturbance or impact by due to a scallop dredge is likely to cause some physical damage to Henricia oculata but starfish have well documented regenerative abilities (see Asterias rubens).
Tolerant Not relevant Not sensitive Low
The species is mobile and displacement would not affect the species.

Chemical pressures

 IntoleranceRecoverabilitySensitivityEvidence/Confidence
No information No information No information Not relevant
Insufficient
information
Heavy metal contamination
No information No information No information Not relevant
Insufficient
information
Hydrocarbon contamination
No information No information No information Not relevant
Insufficient
information
Radionuclide contamination
No information No information No information Not relevant
Insufficient
information
Changes in nutrient levels
No information No information No information Not relevant
Insufficient
information
Intermediate Moderate Moderate Low
Species lives only in fully saline habitats. A reduction of one salinity rank would result in the species being exposed to conditions outside its preferred range. Although the adults are mobile they probably don't move long distances so adult immigration is unlikely to play a large role in recovery. The species can live for up to five years and matures at quite small sizes. Up to 500 eggs are broadcast spawned into the water column so larval dispersal potential is considerable. Reproduction occurs over a protracted period so is less likely to be affected by adverse environmental conditions.
No information
Intermediate Moderate Moderate Low
Cole et al. (1999) suggest possible effects on marine species below 4 mg/l and probable effects below 2mg/l. There is no information about Henricia oculata tolerance to changes in oxygenation..

Biological pressures

 IntoleranceRecoverabilitySensitivityEvidence/Confidence
No information No information No information Not relevant
Insufficient
information
No information No information No information Not relevant
Insufficient
information
Not relevant Not relevant Not relevant Low
It is very unlikely that this species would be extracted.
Not relevant Not relevant Not relevant Low
The species has no known obligate relationships.

Additional information

Importance review

Policy/legislation

- no data -

Status

National (GB) importance-Global red list (IUCN) category-

Non-native

Native-
Origin- Date Arrived-

Importance information

-none-

Bibliography

  1. Brun, E., 1976. Ecology and taxonomic position of Henricia oculata Pennant. Thalassia Jugoslavica 12, 51-64.
  2. Campbell, A., 1994. Seashores and shallow seas of Britain and Europe. London: Hamlyn.
  3. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E. (ed.), 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]
  4. Nichols, D., 1969. Echinoderms (4th ed.). London: Hutchinson & Co.

Citation

This review can be cited as:

Jackson, A. 2008. Henricia oculata Bloody Henry starfish. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. Available from: http://www.marlin.ac.uk/species/detail/1131

Last Updated: 24/04/2008