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Asterina phylactica

Emson & Crump, 1979


Ian Smith Asterina phylactica. Arm span 5.5mm. Deep rock pool in splash zone above MHWL. N. Anglesey 29 Sept 2012.

Ian Smith How big was yours David Kipling ? My little un from same area is certainly more cushiony.

David Kipling Very big, possibly 2cm? But this one still looks more star-like compared to the Pembs ones I'll dig out some examples.

David Kipling This seems to be missing the black markings our Pembs ones have - or perhaps just too small?

Ian Smith Your larger leggy Anglesey one has blackish marks, so I guess it's size. Restricted gene pool in rock pools wouldn't apply to off shore ones. But maybe legginess is typical of off-shore ones and mine had been cast up into the splash zone by storm waves. Are the leggy ones from Anglesey mentioned by Liz from pools or off-shore?

David Kipling My leggy one was N corner of Anglesey and offshore. Liz Morris can comment on hers?

Ian Smith Mine from near NW corner Anglesey. The central disc on the underside view of mine seems to be recessed; is it the brood chamber?

David Kipling http://fsj.field-studies-council.org/media/342971/vol5.5_160.pdf

Ian Smith Thanks David Kipling Had a quick skim, looks most useful. Will read in detail later.

George Brown Beautiful animals and beautiful photography Ian Smith.

Message posted on Seasearch Identifications on 18 Jun 2013
David Kipling Do Asterina phylactica become less cushion-like as they get older (this was a large specimen)? Angelsey specimen in ~ 15m water.

David Kipling (sorry for the lumps of blooming phytoplankton in the way!)

David Kipling Liz Morris commented that this long-legged morphology is typical of what she sees in this area.

David Kipling Ross and Kate ... I know you keep an eye out for these critters. Do you ever see long-legged big ones round Skomer, or are they more proper cushiony?

Ross Bullimore What size individual are we looking at David Kipling? I've sadly never seen enough of these lil ones to knowingly notice any divergence in cushion-ness or leg lengths! (Probably a question for Dr. Crump) or someone spending a lot of time out on the Worm causeway...maybe Judith might've noticed any deflated, long legged individuals. Might be worth checking the species description paper from Robin..I dont have a copy here but pretty sure Blaise Bullimore does. Not a very helpful answer sorry!

David Kipling Very big - larger than the intertidal ones at Gower.

Blaise Bullimore David - give that to me in millimetres please! Very big is like a transit or aneliphunt. Then I'll consult Robin.

David Kipling Big for an Asterina, let's put it that way, so over 10mm and probably more. Sarah may have a better memory!

Kate Lock The only ones I have seen around Skomer were on the inside of the Mewstone in shallow waters....when Blaise Bullimore and I took Robin there for a dive many years ago...1997 I think!! And I think they were more 'cushiony'.... never seen a long legged one like your photo!

David Kipling The one we saw at 15m in Wick basin the other year was your classic cushion shape. I wonder if Liz Morris has any more pictures of the Leggy Asterinas from Anglesey?

Sarah Bowen I'm pretty certain that it was between 20 and 25 mm tip to tip; that's what was so surprising, especially as I'd just found a tiny (in comparison) one on some Flustra.

Liz Morris they are quite common around there... but as ive not seen many others around the country i cant be sure of relative aize or legginess... ill look for photos!!

Message posted on Seasearch Identifications on 18 Jun 2013
Ian Smith Pool above HWS, N. coast Anglesey. Hundreds of Runcina coronata September, none found in June. Two spp. Cladophora at surface and on sides, respectively. Corallina deeper. Runcina confined to Corallina. Limapontia senestra (abundant June, a few September) only on Cladophora. David Kipling , this is the pool where I found Asterina phylactica (Sept. & again last Wednesday June 26).

Cynthia D. Trowbridge I have seen loads of Limapontia in such pools; I have even found the species on Codium (confused sacos or any green alga helps metamophose???). Metamorphic cues are much broader than the literature suggests as most people do not try non-host alga species as treatments.

Message posted on Seasearch Identifications on 30 Jun 2013
David Kipling Asterina phylactica from Skomer this weekend - with the tip of a Seasearch pencil for scale!

Charlotte Bolton Very glad you posted this - just looking at a picture of the same from Scilly and not being able to remember the name - saved me looking it up ;-)

Ross Bullimore GRRRRRR........damn it!! i've never seen phylactica around Skomer. Very very jealous. Where abouts?

Ross Bullimore damn this poverty and work meaning we have no life and no time to come home :-(

Blaise Bullimore Echo - where did you find the little darlin'?

Ross Bullimore echo....echo....(yes im writing my paper.....honest)

David Kipling SW Skomer; Wick basin, at ~ 15m or so on a high tide. It'll be on the Surveyor form that Sarah will do.

Kate Lock Gorgeous tiny thing! we also had numerous baby Luidia ciliaris and baby Henricia octuala at the site......all very cute!!

Sarah Bowen Ross, I always think of you when I see these (no consolation, I know) after you went off piste at West Angle looking for them when we should have been sampling weeds.....!

Message posted on Seasearch Identifications on 14 May 2012
Richard Yorke Seen in the Scilly Isles last May but looks like nothing I would have expected there, any ideas?

Tony Gilbert Think its Sarcodictyon sp., poss. roseum Richard.

Bernard Picton Hi Richard, definitely not Sarcodictyon. This is probably Parerythropodium coralloides, which is an exciting find for the UK, as it hasn't crossed the channel before. The only problem is that what the books call Parerythropodium coralloides is actually 3 or 4 species now. The pale pink one is Alcyonium hibernicum, (it's old name) and there are two other species on the French-Portuguese coasts. I'll post some pictures later.

Chris Wood We are revising the Seasearch Anemones and Corals Guide early in the new year and I would very much like this image to include as it seems to be a first. Richard could you send details and copy of the image at high resolution to chris@seasearch.org.uk Many thanks.

Bernard Picton I think this might be Cathy McFadden's Morphotype A2 of Alcyonium hibernicum. "Colonies of Morphotype A2 occurred at all Atlantic locations from Iles Chausey (CHA) southward, but were not found in the British Isles" "Type A2 colonies were generally red or very dark pink, with some yellow in the polyps (the "pink-4'' of Groot and Weinberg 1982). Coenenchymal sclerites were always red or a mixture of red and pink; tentacular sclerites were almost always yellow (occasionally red, and very rarely white), and sclerites in the polyps were usually red or pink, often mixed with yellow, especially in the proximal region" It might not have a name yet, but is almost certainly a distinct species.

Richard Yorke Thanks Bernard, it seems I was correct in thinking it was a bit different from the expected.

Bernard Picton I emailed Cathy and she had a recollection that someone else had also seen something like this in Scilly recently. She is going to check.

Susana Martins Probably the same... https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=4300650748368&set=o.341487989207852&type=1&theater

Richard Yorke Apparently Lin Baldock (who led the trip) contacted Cathy at the beginning of May about my picture so that we are probably talking about the same sighting.

Bernard Picton This is getting more tricky by the day! "Hi Bernard - Actually, no, it would be morph A1 (A. hibernicum), which comes in two different colors. The Irish version of A1 is usually a pale pink, but in France there are two color morphs of A1, the pale pink and a much darker pink. The A. coralloides (A2) that occurs in France is red with yellow sclerites in the polyps. For awhile we thought the dark pink A1 was possibly a hybrid between A1 and A2, but further genetic work showed that not to be the case (see another attached paper). Genetically, the light pink and dark pink forms of A1 are identical, and conform to A. hibernicum. The red A2 in France is A. coralloides. The earlier photos I got from the Scilly Isles looked more like dark pink A1 than like A2. Cheers, Cathy"

Richard Yorke As you say, trickier day by day! I am getting a bit out of my depth, but reading the Summary of general features the ones that seem to fit best are either A1 or A3 as it seems to be basically red and white, with hardly a hint of yellow, even if I play with the white balance. The lobate morphology and rock substrate would also fit but as A3 was only found in Portugal, and that seems a tremendous jump for it to make. I would agree that A1 seems the most likely. However it was not the typical UK Alcyonium hibernicum described on MarLIN as that is found only on shaded or overhanging rock surfaces and is pink. This was on a vertical surface with sun shining on it and definitely more of a red.

Bernard Picton There is something odd going on here, I've seen typical pale pink A. hibernicum in a lot of places, but never this one in the UK or Ireland. A. hibernicum has odd genetics, it seems to be not reproducing sexually, more parthenogenetically, so a clone. The starfish Asterina phylactica is supposed to be doing something similar. There is a theory that this is because they went through some sort of population bottleneck during the last ice age.

Message posted on Seasearch Identifications on 28 Sep 2012
Paula Lightfoot Thanks to everyone who sent photos for the Name a Species competition - some photos have been used on the Guardian website and others are on posters to promote the competition at events around the country. The competition is now 'live' so send in your suggested names for the 5 marine species and 5 terrestrial species! http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/series/name-a-species

Keith Hiscock I have e-mailed to ask that the "very small cushion star" description next to Akera bullata is 'pulled'.

Paula Lightfoot Oh dear! There was a last-minute decision to remove Asterina phylactica from the competition as it was suggested that it already had a common name - it looks as if the accompanying text has not been properly updated.

David Fenwick Snr Paula Akera bullata also has a published common name, the Soft bubble-shell (Shell Life by Edward Step)

David Fenwick Snr Similarly Elysia viridis is published in Step as the Green Elysia

Paula Lightfoot Aaargh! Thanks for letting me know, I've passed the information along. Loads of creatures were rejected on the grounds that they already had common names published somewhere, I guess these slipped through. I think they will stay in now that the competition has gone live, it's still a great way to raise public interest in biodiversity. Anyway 'green elysia' might be a correct translation of the Latin but the only one I saw in Yorkshire wasn't green at all but dark red! Let's see if the public can come up with something better! ;-)

David Fenwick Snr I wouldn't have noticed but have recently gone through certain molluscs with a fine toothed comb as I've just increased the number of species on my website to about 400. Have been looking at common names as many old ones for shells have somewhat gone out of fashion. My own opinion is that adding common names personalises a species and makes biodiversity and relationships between species somewhat easier for the masses to comprehend. Working out the common names from the scientific synonomy has been quite tasking at times.

Penny Martin Akra bullata swimming http://www.flickr.com/photos/65618324@N07/6208169487/

David Kipling Cornish Asterina phylactica looking properly like a cushion.

Ian Smith Interesting. How big?

David Kipling Quite large (I'm dreadful at guessing sizes uw) if I recall, certainly > 1cm.

Message posted on Seasearch Identifications on 18 Jun 2013
Judith Oakley A six-armed Asterina phylactica found yesterday on the South Wales coast. I have found at least 6 individuals with six arms in the past 18 months.

Cynthia D. Trowbridge Is this an increase from the past?

Judith Oakley Can't really say as have only been researching them properly since Sept 2011.

Message posted on Echinoderms of the NE Atlantic on 27 Feb 2013
Judith Oakley Berthella plumula spawning today on the Gower peninsula, South Wales (plus 2 x Asterina phylactica top left).

João Pedro Silva Next time try to shoot with the animal completely submerged (no more than 2cm of water above the animal). Even if you're at the surface, the results will be far better. http://www.flickr.com/photos/49844432@N08/6974170177/

Judith Oakley Thanks. I know, João Pedro Silva, but I was busy surveying a different animal species at the time, and just happened to see this. I didn't have my underwater camera with me either!

João Pedro Silva The photo above was taken with a land camera without a housing.

Message posted on NE Atlantic Nudibranchs on 30 Jun 2013
Judith Oakley Berthella plumula spawning today on the Gower peninsula, South Wales (plus 2 x Asterina phylactica top left).

Message posted on NE Atlantic Nudibranchs on 30 Jun 2013
Andy Horton I hope people are inundated, but when I see a special picture it is interesting to put it on the BMLSS group

Anna Morell Hello! I know nothing. Forgive my ignorance in the face of enthusiasm? I just came over here to gawp and learn. What are these beauties? :)

Andy Horton I think they are Asterina phylactica. (not positive) At one time they were thought to be scarce. By number of the pictures, maybe not. But maybe of only local occurrence.

Andy Horton The Natural History, Life History and Ecology of The British Species of Asterina by R.G. Crump and R.H. Emson Field Studies Council 160 Vol. 5, No. 5 (1983)

Anna Morell Thanks! I am still gawping. I'll get to learning in a minute. :)

Sarah Bowen Yes, they're definitely Asterina phylactica. We also were under the impression they were very scarce; but certainly locally abundant! Only in a specific few pools though. We've also seen single animals in North Cornwall and on Skomer Island.

Andy Horton http://www.marlin.ac.uk/speciesinformation.php?speciesID=2660

Becky Hitchin Gawp away, Anna Morell :) We like new recruits! I'll get you out on Shoresearch next :P

Angela Gall Ah! we found dozens in rockpools with Keith Hiscock on the south coast of Cornwall back in the winter -they were living in the Corallina - have we just got our eye in for them now?

David Kipling Hard to tell Angela! Certainly if you know they exist and go looking for them you find them, maybe we blank out what we don't expect? I do remember the one I found in N Cornwall with you ... I saw it and thought "oh good, something to check my camera is working on" (it was beginning of dive). Didn't think twice about it until we reviewed the pictures later and Sarah started squeaking excitedly!

David Kipling I've added a couple of pictures of a four-legged specimen we found to the album - very cute, looks almost square!

Taxonomy
Animalia (Kingdom)
  Echinodermata (Phylum)
    Asterozoa (Subphylum)
      Asteroidea (Class)
        Valvatacea (Superorder)
          Valvatida (Order)
            Asterinidae (Family)
              Asterina (Genus)
                Asterina phylactica (Species)
Associated Species