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Marthasterias glacialis (Linnaeus, 1758)

Spiny starfish

Marthasterias glacialis

Concarneau Bay, France, 5 meters, 2005, WBN

Description

Marthasterias glacialis is a starfish of 30 to 40 cm in diameter but it may be up to 80 cm. Its surface is covered by linear papillae from which arise large conical spines surrounded by numerous pedicellariae easily visible under magnifying glass. The colour is variable: whitish, bluish, pink, purple, greenish-grey or brown. It has five cylindrical tapering arms with a photosensitive ocella at their tips. For this reason, the spiny starfish often rolls up its arm-tips to detect movements. It feeds on various animals, dead or alive, such as molluscs, shellfish, fish or other echinoderms. It is a voracious starfish which may cause important damages in mussel and oyster farmings. Very common on Brittany coasts, it has seen its population grow very quickly because of its great regeneration ability: regularly caught in fishers'nets, they were torn to pieces and thrown back to sea by fishermen firmly believing that thus the starfish would die!

Distribution

Marthasterias glacialis lives on rocky bottoms from surface to depths up to 180 m. It is found in the Atlantic Ocean, the English Channel, the North Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.

Image satellite: © Esri, DigitalGlobe, GeoEye, Earthstar Geographics, CNES/Airbus DS, USDA, USGS, AeroGRID, IGN, and the GIS User Community.

Données de distribution : Marthasterias glacialis (Linnaeus, 1758) in GBIF Secretariat (2019). GBIF Backbone Taxonomy. Checklist dataset https://doi.org/10.15468/39omei accessed via GBIF.org on 2020-09-25.

Classification

Source : World Register of Marine Species


Biota (Superdomain)
Animalia (Kingdom)
Echinodermata (Phylum)
Asterozoa (Subphylum)
Asteroidea (Class)
Forcipulatacea (Superorder)
Forcipulatida (Order)
Asteriidae (Family)
Marthasterias (Genus)
Marthasterias glacialis (Species)

Page glossary

Pedicellariae : minute jawed elements of sea urchins and starfish used to clean body surface and as defensive means.

Authors

Text : Anne Bay-Nouailhat © 2005 - 2020.

Photos : © Wilfried Bay-Nouailhat. Published with his kind permission.
Websites and reference works : Consult bibliography

Image satellite: © Esri, DigitalGlobe, GeoEye, Earthstar Geographics, CNES/Airbus DS, USDA, USGS, AeroGRID, IGN, and the GIS User Community.

Données de distribution : Marthasterias glacialis (Linnaeus, 1758) in GBIF Secretariat (2019). GBIF Backbone Taxonomy. Checklist dataset https://doi.org/10.15468/39omei accessed via GBIF.org on 2020-09-25.

How to cite this page

Bay-Nouailhat A., September 2005, Description of Marthasterias glacialis, [On line] http://european-marine-life.org/30/marthasterias-glacialis.php, consulted on 2020 September 25.

Author

Photographie de Anne Bay-Nouailhat

Anne Bay-Nouailhat

Project manager in marine environment
Professional diver - Naturalist

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