MarLIN

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

Purple sun star (Solaster endeca)

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

Summary

Description

Solaster endeca is a fairly large species up to 40 cm in diameter, although usually observed at approximately 20 cm. This species has 9-10 tapering arms (occasionally 7-13) set around a large disc. Its dorsal surface is supported by closely packed skeletal plates, which posess close-set, short paxillae that further bear spinelets (small, movable projections). It also bears two rows of marginal paxillae with the upper smaller than the lower. It is variable in colouration: dirty cream, orangey-red to bright pink-purple dorsally with a pale orange underside. The tips of the arms are commonly turned upwards to reveal the underside and two rows of tube feet (podium) with sucking discs. The adambulacral plates (series of calcareous plates flanking the ambulacral furrow), with a series of 2-3 spines (ambulacral furrow spines) also bear rows of 6-8 shorter spines.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Frequently recorded on the north and west coasts of Britain and Ireland. Further records span from the Shetlands down to Northumberland.

Global distribution

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Habitat

This species can be found on muddy gravel or silty rocks in sheltered or moderately exposed conditions, from the infralittoral fringe to 500 m depth.

Depth range

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Identifying features

  • Can be up to 40 cm in diameter, commonly 20 cm.
  • It has 9-10 long tappering arms (occasionally 7-13).
  • Close-set spiny surface.
  • Colour variable from bright pink-purple to orangey-red dorsally with pale orange undersides.

Additional information

Solaster endeca breeds during March-April with direct development and, therefore, has no pelagic stage. It is a voracious predator on other Echinoderm species often eating animals nearly as large as itself (Gibson et al., 2001). It is the only British starfish with as many arms as Crossaster papposus (Picton, 1993), however, Solaster endeca has a much smoother appearance.

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Further information sources

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Bibliography

  1. Bruce, J.R., Colman, J.S. & Jones, N.S., 1963. Marine fauna of the Isle of Man. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.

  2. Costello, M.J., Bouchet, P., Boxshall, G., Emblow, C. & Vanden Berghe, E., 2004. European Register of Marine Species [On-line]. http://www.marbef.org/data/erms.php,

  3. Dipper, R., & Powell. A., 1984. Field guide to the water life of Britain. London: Reader's Digest Association Limited.

  4. Foster-Smith, J. (ed.), 2000. The marine fauna and flora of the Cullercoats District. Marine species records for the North East Coast of England. Sunderland: Penshaw Press, for the Dove Marine Laboratory, University of Newcastle upon Tyne.

  5. Gibson, R., Hextall, B. & Rogers, A., 2001. Photographic guide to the sea and seashore life of Britain and north-west Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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

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

  8. 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.]

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

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

  11. 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/

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

  13. 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:

Rowley, S.J. 2007. Solaster endeca Purple sun 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/2189

Last Updated: 17/01/2007