Starfishes, Sea Urchins, Sea Cucumbers and Related Invertebrates
Cushion Star, Porania pulvillus, and the Sunstar, Crossaster papposus
Greek echinos = sea urchin, derma = skin.
Marine animals that are
radially symmetrical (most species) and contain a unique water vascular
system, and tube feet that are used for movement, respiration, protection
(spines) and assist in the capture of food.
The Echinodermata are exclusively marine, and most species are intolerant of immersion in low salinity water. One remarkable observation is that they are rarely settled on by barnacles, mussels and other fouling organisms.
Cushion Star, Asterina gibbosa, with the Shore Urchin, Psammechinus miliaris.
Photograph by Robert Jones (Trowbridge)The Cushion Star is only found on the shore and in the seas to the south and west of the British Isles. The Purple-tipped Shore Urchin has a more widespread distribution but is not particularly common between the tides, although it seem to be known from most rocky coasts where it is usually found attached to the underside of rocks near the low spring tide mark.
MASS MORTALITY OF THE HEART URCHIN, Echinocardium cordatum.
Common Starfish, Asterias rubens
COTTON-SPINNER, Holothuria forskali
More information links:
Thousands of Common Starfish, Asterias rubens, were washed up on the strandline on the shingle beach at Budleigh Salterton in south Devon (East Devon AONB). The line of washed up starfish stretched for over a mile.
Report by Scott Eley
Comments by Andy Horton
Report by Steve and Avril Froggatt
23 March 2008
Over Easter, after some heavy storms with snow blowing in off the North Sea, I discovered hundreds of Common Starfish, Asteria rubens, a lot of Sunstars, Crossaster papposus, and Brittlestars washed up on the sands of Holkham Beach, Norfolk.
Report & Photographs by Rupert Smith16 March 2008
Hundreds of the sea cucumber Thyone fusus, many exuding their guts and gonads as a response to the stress, were discovered washed dead on up on the shore Newborough in North Wales (only a few nautical miles from Dinas Dinlle).
forskali, was washed up dead on White
Strand beach, Cahirciveen,
I'd seen live ones in lobster pots but this was the first 'stranded' one I've seen.
Report by Rosemary Hill
Report by Derek Williams
They were scattered all over the strandline and shore with other remains including the common Mermaid's Purses (egg cases of the Dogfish) and the decaying carcass of a dead Seal. Sea Cucumbers are an unusual echinoderm washed up between the tides.
Report and Photographs by Paul JasperAnother Sea Cucumber report (in Diver magazine)
The sea cucumber looks like Thyone fusus can be found as far north as Norway grows up to 20 cm.
ID by Gary CrossComparative Image
11 June 2003
Report by Ian MannThis stretch of coast seems to be particularly prone to large and massive strandings of starfish and other marine life.
Previous Report of a Massive Wreck
Report by Sally Tompkins18 September 2002
A bright orange starfish, Echinaster sepositus, was caught in a bottom gill net near the south-west corner of Guernsey in over 30 metres of water. The fisherman, Ken Robilliard, who caught it and has fished for 25 years says he had never seen this species before.
Report from Richard Lord (Guernsey)Previous Report
via the Marine Wildlife of the North-east Atlantic Ocean Group
Report by N V Proctor (University of Hull)Full List of Species
Strandline & Beachcombing Page
Report by Richard Lord (Guernsey)
Northern Cushion Star
This colourful cushion star is is an exceptional find on the shore and is not often reported by divers, preferring deep cold seas.
Constantine Bay beach, north Cornwall
This small cushion star inhabits
the shore on south and western rocky coasts of Britain only.
In late December 20'01, I picked an unusually shaped starfish ( I'd not seen one like this in 22 years of diving ) from a trawlers net on Eyemouth pier (near St Abbs).
I enlisted the help of the National Museum of Scotland and Dr Susan Chambers identified it as a specimen of Hippasteria phrygiana.
More enquiry gleaned the info that the trawler had last fished ' 3 miles off Sunderland' and prior to that 'off Whitby', so the exact location is a bit uncertain.
I got recent records from JNCC - they have 7 from 1974 to 1990 - 3 off Shetland, 3 from NW Scotland and one from Rockall.
Dove Marine Lab have none since 1912.
From internet searches the distribution would seem to be all across the north Atlantic - Stellwagen Bank, Iceland, Faroes.
I also found a good photo by Bernard Picton at - http://www.users.zetnet.co.uk/papa-stour-sac/pics/hippa.jpg
George Davidson, (Eyemouth, Borders)
I can add that this starfish is most plentiful here along the Norwegian coast. Not uncommon to see 10 or more in a dive. Usually most abundant in winter months. Some have commensals.
From: "Espen Rekdal"
Glossary of Echinoderm
Pedicellariae: tiny modified spines topped with 2- or 3-jawed pincers, very mobile and sometimes poisonous, which are used to remove settling larvae and other material from sea urchins (or starfish).
Papulae: little fleshy projections of the body wall in starfish, which give an increased surface area for gas exchange and excretion; large numbers give it a slightly 'furry' look.
Ambulacrum: one of five bands of small plates running from the top to the bottom of a sea urchin, through which the tube feet emerge. The ambulacra are separated by wider inter-ambulacra made up of larger plates. The other echinoderms (starfish; brittlestars; sea cucumbers and feather stars) also have tube feet emerging through ambulacra, but the details are different.
BMLSS Species List
TAXONOMIC INDEX TO BRITISH MARINE WILDLIFE
Use these links if your are familiar with the scientific classifications of marine life