More Echinoderms

The Ocean Blog

Sea stars are important members of marine ecosystems, especially in the tropics. We may think of tropical coral reefs as being home mainly to fish and corals, but in fact these habitats are home to a...
This purple urchin Paleopneustes cristatus is seldom seen by itself, and can be found in groups of hundreds. Dr. Dave Pawson , a senior scientist at NMNH who studies deep-sea echinoderms, is testing...
Census of Marine Life researchers discovered this unusual transparent sea cucumber ( Enypniastes sp.) in the Gulf of Mexico at 2,750 meters depth. It creeps forward on its tentacles pretty slowly, at...
Since late April, the world has watched a devastating oil spill from a BP drilling rig spread throughout the Gulf of Mexico and become one of the worst environmental disasters in the history of the...
Since summer 2013, starfish along both coasts of the United States have been dying in large numbers—and not gracefully. As their tissues collapse, the starfish (also called sea stars) start to look...
A crown-of-thorns starfish ( Acanthaster planci ) on a reef in the Marianas Islands. An “outbreak” of these coral-eating starfish can decimate a reef, and they have done great damage on Australia's...
Simon Coppard, a post-doctoral research fellow at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and an Encyclopedia of Life Rubenstein Fellow specializing in echinoids often uncovers new...
Sea cucumbers might have a cucumber shape, but are definitely animal, not vegetable… or fruit. They belong to the Phylum Echinodermata , which also includes sea urchins, sand dollars, sea stars and...
In the aftermath of the Gulf oil spill, what is the effect of oil on invertebrates like jellyfish, clams, crabs, sea stars, and plankton? The scope of the damage is more easily observed among birds...
It is a well-known fact that for animals living in the deep sea, food can be scarce. The food that is around usually rains down from above as dead animals and organic particles from plankton living...
Shown here are several deep-sea coral species: From left to right is an unidentified purple octocoral, a small gold acanthorgorgiid octocoral, and a large colony of pink Corallium secundum . Basket...
Ochre seastars ( Pisaster ochraceus ) feed on invertebrates, such as coral and shellfish, like the mussels pictured here. The starfish forces open the shell with suction disks on the underside of its...
These brittlestars ( Ophiothela mirabilis ) are not where they belong. These animals, usually found in the Pacific Ocean, were first spotted in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Brazil in 2000. And...
A sea star , Hymenaster pellucidus , brought up from a benthic ROV dive. View the “Under Arctic Ice” photo essay to learn more.
Thousands of seamounts—most of them undersea volcanoes—tower above the muddy seafloor. They provide something hard to come by in the deep ocean : a solid surface to cling to. This photo gallery shows...
Crinoids (echinoderms related to sea stars and sea urchins) dominate the Paleozoic shallow water habitat in this illustration. They evolved a variety of stalk heights, which enabled them to capture...
A huge colony of brittlestars (likely Ophiacantha rosea ) covers the peak of a seamount in the deep ocean. What’s the attraction? Food! Their arms reach out for tiny food particles carried by the...
A tiny larval (baby) starfish. The immature forms of invertebrates and other animals may be even more vulnerable to threats such as oil spills than adult forms.
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