A starfish is perhaps one of the first sea creatures that we learn about as children. Its iconic shape can be identified easily and is very interesting to look at on the coastline. Like a starfish, brittle starfish are also echinoderms but are in the group of Ophiuroidea. It’s a brittle star group that may enchant or may not interest you at all. But did you know that this echinoderm may also bring fascination?
The Brittle Starfish follows the five “limbs” pattern; however, they lack an adorable star design. They are also known for having thin arms and a central disk that contains a skeleton and entire internal organ. Perhaps, you’re one of those people that find Brittle Starfish positively fascinating. That’s why in this blog, you will get to know the sea wonder called the Brittle Fish. In addition, you will know some of the fascinating facts about them that will blow your mind.
What is a Brittle Starfish?
A Brittle Star belongs to the taxonomic class Ophiuroidea. They range from tiny to outrageous and band to colorful. They have equally varied personalities. They always have a central disc and small spines on each side of their arms. And if their central disc is still intact, brittle stars can just lose their entire arms and have them grow back. This ability is very useful, especially when their predators take hold of the Brittle Starfish’s arms, as they can easily remove their arms just to escape.
Furthermore, the arms of Brittle Starfish may twist and even turn to help them in traveling on the seafloor. Their arms could even grow up to 24-inch-long when their sizes are large. Their colors are usually brownish-red or grey, and their colors may also vary based on the species. And they are also known as brittle stars because they can easily break into pieces when dried.
The Brittle Fish are also referred to as ‘serpent starfish,’ even though they are in a separate group. They are close relatives of starfish usually found in deep waters and depths of at least 500 meters below sea level. However, they can also be found in low-tide areas and even reef communities. They hide under rocks and within corals.
Interesting Facts about Brittle Fish
Why would everyone love the Brittle Starfish? So now you have an idea about what they look like, here are some interesting facts about Brittle Starfish that will amaze you.
There are over 2,000 brittle star species in the world’s ocean. Some of the species live in shallow waters, while other species can live about 11,000 feet deep. Their habitats are usually on sessile, immobile coral reefs and some animals on the seafloor like spiny sponges.
That’s why brittle stars are also seafloor engineers for their part in reshaping the sediments on the ocean floor every time they coil and twist the arms to move. But, more so about being seafloor engineers, they are also vital in the food web, as they also give nutrition to sea stars, crab, and fish predators.
Brittle stars usually feed on small oceanic and detritus organisms like small mollusks, plankton, and fish. Their diets come with small organisms that can filter feed out the water or use its mouth to catch their prey. Other brittle stars also raise themselves on their arms when a fish would get close enough. They can wrap them in a spiral and eat them.
They could also eat by lifting their arms to capture and trap algae and tiny particles using their mucous strands. Their mouths come with five jaws around them and crunch up food particles from their mouth to their esophagus and their stomach. They have about ten pouches in their stomach, where their food is digested. They don’t have an anus. That’s why any wastes may come out through their mouths only.
The name of brittle starfish was derived from the Greek word ‘office, which means ‘snake.’ They are best known for their hauntingly elegant motions because of their snake-like arms. And when they were on the seafloors, they would start to wiggle their limbs to push themselves forward.
So, it’s also an indication for divers to remember them as ‘serpent stars.’Furthermore, compared to a starfish, brittle stars don’t always rely on their tube feet for movements. Instead, they can swim and walk quietly and freely with their arms.
There are female and male brittle stars in the ocean, and though it’s not obvious to define what gender they have, they can still reproduce sexually. They release sperms and eggs into the water. As a result, there will be a free-swimming larva called ophiopluteus. They would eventually settle to the bottom and form a brittle star shape.
They may also reproduce asexually through the process of fission. This process occurs when the star splits its central disk in half. It would then grow into two brittle stars. Furthermore, they can reach sexual maturity when they reach two years of age. They would grow fully when they reached their 3rd to 4th year.
Brittle Stars can reach their maximum size for around 4-5 years. And if they are lucky, they could even survive up to 8 years. However, in captivity, they can only live 3-5 years only.
The population of brittle stars is stable and abundant. However, because of climate change, habitat destruction, and pollution, there may be threats that may come along that may risk their health.
A Brittle starfish is not scary sea creatures just because they look like a snake. They are everywhere across the seafloor, and they are a fine example of marine evolution. If we, humans, can understand how and where these creatures evolve, then perhaps we can start to hold on to how life flourished and originated on our planets.
Brittle stars can be found anywhere. And just like some other sea creatures, the brittle fish is also significant in the ocean. So, whenever we get to see them, don’t get frightened easily. Instead, just learn how to appreciate them, especially their beauty. Let us learn how to protect them because it’s never too late, and one way to protect them is through taking care of the ocean.
Here at ATOLEA, we have a mission of helping preserve and protect the Ocean as a way of giving back. We are donating part of our profit from your purchase on our Ocean-inspired jewelry collections.
So if you want to show your appreciation for marine life including the Brittle Starfish, check out our wide selections of different Sea-creature inspired jewelry and start adding our elegant design to your favorite accessories now!