Living Brittle Stars, Ophiura ophiura (Linnaeus), washed ashore at Burry Holms in Rhossili Bay, Gower, South Wales, UK (1)

Brittle Stars, like these Ophiura ophiura (Linnaeus), occasionally wash up in large numbers on the rocky shoreline of the island of Burry Holms at Rhossili Bay on the Gower Peninsula. They are strange and delicate forms of Echinoderm and are related to the starfish and sea urchin. The five fragile flexible arms arranged around the central disc have limited mobility. The articulation of the arms is limited to lateral movements rather than up and down. They can move quite quickly over sandy or rocky surfaces by sinuous sideways movements – as captured in the photographs of this slideshow. 

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6 Replies to “Brittle Stars at Burry Holms (1)”

  1. This is the only place i have seen brittle stars that are alive, i often find dead ones at Three cliffs bay that have been bleached white by the sun but this spot does have live ones in, they are found at low tide in the rock pools but are hard to spot as they blend in with the sand, Im coming down here on 11 September so will check the area out.

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  2. Hi, Mike. Good to hear from you. I only see brittle stars occasionally. They are very fragile, aren’t they? Their arms often break off and it is horrid to watch them trying to move around like that. I hope you are able to find some live specimens in perfect condition when you visit Gower in September.

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  3. I was on a recent holiday in France at Saint Hilaire de Riez. And on one day (7th June 2012) when the tide was out we managed to get down to the beach. I hadn’t noticed them at first as I was playing with my little boy, but after noticing a few of these together in a small space I then realised that the beach was covered in them. I wasn’t sure exactly what they were and took a few photographs so I could find out later. I was pleased to find your blog identifying them.

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  4. I am pleased that my pictures and posting were useful in identifying the seashore creatures that you found on the French coast. They are beautiful animals aren’t they – and so delicate? I am always surprised that they survive these mass strandings on the shore.

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