Brittle Star Coral Mutualism

A brittle star clings to the branches of a deep sea coral

A brittle star wraps its arms around the branches of a deep sea octocoral. The coral's polyps are all open and extended, a sign that the coral is unbothered by the sea star. This image was taken in the Gulf of Mexico as part of the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative to understand the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.