MarLIN

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

A sand star (Astropecten irregularis)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.

Researched byMarisa Sabatini Refereed byAdmin
Authority(Pennant, 1777)
Other common names- Synonyms-

Summary

Description

Astropecten irregularis has a stiff flattened body. It can grow up to 20 cm in diameter. The dorsal surface appears finely granular. The under surface of this starfish is pale, however the upper surface can appear sandy, yellow orange, pink or brown. It often has purple tips at the end of each arm and a purple spot at the centre of the disc. At the edge of each arm there is a double series of large marginal plates. The upper marginal plates have a larger conical spine. It has pointed tube feet without suckers.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Recorded from the Shetland Islands, the Orkneys, the west coasts of England and Scotland and around the coast of Ireland. It has also been recorded near Aberdeen, St Andrews Bay and along the Northumberland coastline.

Global distribution

Found on the west coast of Norway to Morocco. It is also found throughout the Mediterranean.

Habitat

Found partly buried on clean sand or sandy mud. Occurs in the sublittoral to depths of about 1000 m. Specimens can often be found washed ashore after storms event.

Depth range

-

Identifying features

  • Stiff star shape.
  • Five rather short tapering triangular arms meeting at distinct angles.
  • Horizontal row of long pointed spines along edges of arms with large marginal plates.

Additional information

No similar species occur in shallow water. Astropecten irregularis usually lies part buried in the sediment and maintains contact with the surface through the tips of the arms.

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Further information sources

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NBN WoRMS

Bibliography

  1. Bergmann, M., Beare, D.J. & Moore, P.G., 2001. Damage sustained by epibentic invertebrates discarded in the Nephrops fishery of the Clyde Sea area, Scotland. Journal of Sea Research, 45, 105-118.

  2. Fish, J.D. & Fish, S., 1996. A student's guide to the seashore. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  3. Hayward, P., Nelson-Smith, T. & Shields, C. 1996. Collins pocket guide. Sea shore of Britain and northern Europe. London: HarperCollins.

  4. Hayward, P.J. & Ryland, J.S. (ed.) 1995b. Handbook of the marine fauna of North-West Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  5. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 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.]

  6. JNCC (Joint Nature Conservation Committee), 1999. Marine Environment Resource Mapping And Information Database (MERMAID): Marine Nature Conservation Review Survey Database. [on-line] http://www.jncc.gov.uk/mermaid

  7. Mortensen, T.H., 1927. Handbook of the echinoderms of the British Isles. London: Humphrey Milford, Oxford University Press.

  8. National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Atlas website. Available from: http://www.nbnatlas.org.  Accessed 01 April 2017

  9. Picton, B.E. & Costello, M.J., 1998. BioMar biotope viewer: a guide to marine habitats, fauna and flora of Britain and Ireland. [CD-ROM] Environmental Sciences Unit, Trinity College, Dublin., http://www.itsligo.ie/biomar/

  10. Picton, B.E., 1993. A field guide to the shallow-water echinoderms of the British Isles. London: Immel Publishing Ltd.

Citation

This review can be cited as:

Sabatini, M. 2008. Astropecten irregularis A sand star. 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/2013

Last Updated: 08/05/2008