More Echinoderms

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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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. Corals, sponges, and...
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...
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...
Fitting nine of anything on two fingers is impressive. These mollusks and echinoderms are a teeny-tiny sample of the ocean's biodiversity. The Census of Marine Life estimates that there are at least...
The Smithsonian's Department of Invertebrate Zoology has a collection of over 57,000 specimens from over 5,700 sites in the Gulf of Mexico, which are now catalogued on Google Earth . Below is a tiny...
A bright orange sea star ( Novodinia antillensis ) clings to a large white soft coral ( Paragorgia sp.). This photo was taken on the Manning Seamount at a depth of 1,350 meters (4,429 feet) by the...
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...
A morning sun star ( Solaster dawsoni ) loses its grip on a rock surface as its body slowly decomposes from starfish wasting syndrome off the coast of Vancouver in September 2013. These photos are...
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...
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.
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...
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