Wild Harris

Brittle Stars

Several species of brittle star occur round our coast. They consist of a round central disc with 5 segmented arms attached. As the name suggests, they are easily broken, which is perhaps a good way of escaping a predator which has taken hold of them. The arm will grow back again in time. Unlike ordinary starfish, they don’t move using tube feet but actively crawl across the sea floor. Most brittle stars feed by holding several arms up to catch passing food; they are sometimes found in dense beds many thousands strong, particularly in places where fast tides bring plenty of food, such as the sea floor in Kyles Scalpay.

common brittle stars feeding.jpgCommon Brittle Stars    (Photo: Sue Scott) 

A host of common brittle stars raise their arms to catch passing food particles as the tide drifts past

black brittle stars.jpgBlack Brittle Stars    (Photo: Paul Tyler) 

Larger than the common brittle star, black brittle strs are often found in huge numbers on rocky sea beds.

by Paul Tyler

Next Section