MarLIN

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

A brittlestar (Ophiura ophiura)

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

Summary

Description

The colour of the brittlestar Ophiura ophiura varies from dull brown to sandy orange. The disc is up to about 35 mm in diameter and the arms are about four times as long as the diameter of the disc. The dorsal and ventral surfaces of the disc is covered with plates. The arms are made of articulating calcareous pieces that allow considerable twisting in the lateral plane. Ophiura ophiura can be distinguished from similar species by having pores between the ventral plates at the base of each arm and by having combs of about 30 fine papillae at each base. It is red to brown in colour above, and paler below.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

All British and Irish coasts.

Global distribution

-

Habitat

Common over sand and muddy-sand. It extends from the lower shore to depths of about 200 m.

Depth range

-

Identifying features

  • Central disc up to 35 mm.
  • Arms 4 times diameter of disc.
  • Upper surface of disc with coarse scales.
  • Arm spines lie almost flat against arms.
  • Pair of pores between ventral plates at the base of the arms.
  • Dorsal surface of disc red/brown, ventral side paler.

Additional information

Ophiura ophiura is a suspension feeder and feeds on a wide range of food.

Listed by

- none -

Further information sources

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Bibliography

  1. Bergmann, M. & Moore, P.G., 2001. Survival of decapod crustaceans discarded in the Nephrops fishery of the Clyde Sea area, Scotland. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 58, 163-171.

  2. 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.

  3. Dahm, C., 1993. Growth, production and ecological significance of Ophiura albida and Ophiura ophiura (Echinodermata: Ophiuroidea) in the German Bight. Marine Biology, 116, 431-437.

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

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

  6. 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.]

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

  8. Southward, E.C. & Campbell, A.C., 2006. Echinoderms. The Linnean Society of London. Avon: The Bath Press. [Synopses of the British Fauna No. 56.]

Citation

This review can be cited as:

Ruiz, A. 2008. Ophiura ophiura A brittlestar. 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/2179

Last Updated: 03/07/2008