Serpent’s table brittlestar (Ophiura albida)

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



A red-brown brittlestar with a disc up to 15 mm in diameter, smaller than Ophiura ophiura. The arms are about four times the diameter of the disc which is covered, on the upper surface, with coarse scales. The arm spines lie almost flat against the arms.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

All British and Irish coasts.

Global distribution



Found sublittorally on a variety of soft substrata but mainly fine muddy sands.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Disk up to 15 mm diameter.
  • Primary plates not distinct.
  • Radial shields small.
  • Innermost dorsal arm plates heart-shaped.
  • Outer arm comb of 10-12 short, stout spines; inner comb indistinct.
  • Dorsal and ventral arm plates with convex outer edge.
  • Three arm spines equidistant from each other.
  • Three to five simple mouth papillae.

Additional information

No text entered

Listed by

- none -


  1. Bradshaw, C., Veale, L.O., Hill, A.S. & Brand, A.R., 2002. The role of scallop-dredge disturbance in long-term changes in Irish Sea benthic communities: a re-analysis of an historical dataset. Journal of Sea Research, 47, 161-184. DOI

  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.]


  1. Centre for Environmental Data and Recording, 2018. Ulster Museum Marine Surveys of Northern Ireland Coastal Waters. Occurrence dataset accessed via on 2018-09-25.

  2. Kent Wildlife Trust, 2018. Kent Wildlife Trust Shoresearch Intertidal Survey 2004 onwards. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-01.

  3. Manx Biological Recording Partnership, 2018. Isle of Man historical wildlife records 1990 to 1994. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-01.

  4. National Trust, 2017. National Trust Species Records. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-01.

  5. NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas. Available from:

  6. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. Accessed: 2024-04-21

  7. South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre, 2018. SEWBReC Marine and other Aquatic Invertebrates (South East Wales). Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-02.


This review can be cited as:

Wilson, E. 1999. Ophiura albida Serpent’s table brittlestar. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 21-04-2024]. Available from:

Last Updated: 27/08/1999