Brittle Stars

© Jean Tresfon

Name

Brittle star (Ophiuroidea)

Alias

Serpent Stars and Basket stars

Size

The arms of brittle stars can be as wide as 60 cm.

Brittle Star Identification

The bodies of brittle stars are flat, circular and disc-shaped. They have five or more arms on which small spines grow, making them appear hairy. Their mouth is located ventrally and they have no anus on top. Brittle stars vary in colour from red to brown, black, olive, white, or orang

Brittle Star General Info

Brittle stars are a part of the Ophiuroidea class which falls under the Echinodermata phylum. This phylum includes the feather star and sea star, sea urchins and sea cucumbers. They use their arms for movement but they are very breakable, giving the brittle star its name. Their arms can be regenerated, however. They are pelagic spawners, and certain species brood their young inside their bodies.

Brittle Star Feeding

Brittle stars are scavengers, feeding on detritus, worms and small crustaceans.

Distribution

Brittle stars can be found in temperate and tropical oceans across the world.

Common Species

Brittle star - Ophiarachna affinis
basket star - Ophiothrix purpurea

© Johan Boshoff