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Brittle Stars

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Brittle star / Ophioarachna incrassata / Family Ophiodermatidae

Brittle stars (ophiurians) have longer arms than sea stars. The arms are flexible and used for swimming. Brittle stars do not rely on tube feet for movement and are the fastest moving of the echinoderms.

Physiology

Brittle stars have long snake-like feathery arms that radiate out from a small central disc. The arms are used to help the animal move.

Habitat

Brittle stars are often found living under rocks during the day. When disturbed, they move quickly away using their arms in a rapid snake-like motion.

Feeding

Small species feed on drifting plankton by raising their arms into the water above them. Some large specimens have been known to feed on fish that they have caught while the fish were sleeping.

Threats

As far as we know, Brittle stars are not endangered, but like most creatures on the Great Barrier Reef, they are affected by water quality and sea temperature. Pollution and rising sea temperatures could endanger Brittle stars.