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Ophiopholis aculeata

(Linnaeus, 1767)

George Brown Ophiopholis aculeata, Loch Carron, about 18 metres depth. The brittlestar is usually partially hidden under dead shells, cobbles or boulders with only a few legs showing.

Andy Horton Brittlestar Revisited.

Anna Morell Cor! :)

Andy Rapson Could it possibly be Ophiopholis aculeata?

George Brown Think it's Ophiothrix fragilis. O. aculeata has more plates on the disc and down along the top face of the legs.

Paul Semmens Great pic!

Holly Latham Confirmation of the pale brittlestar... Ophiocomina nigra?

Might just be an albinos Ophiothrix fragilis

Holly Latham Hmmm... thoughts were - spines to short relative to arm width and disc is smooth. We have found Ophiocomina nigra (including in this bed)

Could be an albino nigra, certainly a fact that both species coexist in Strangford. Where there any typical black versions in the same bed

Holly Latham Yes, there was quite a mix with black and dark brown morphs...

You are probably right then given the spine diagnostic. We take these beds for granted but in world terms NE Atlantic brittle star beds are quite a unique/rare habitat

Colin Munro Spines do look very neat and even for O fragilis, much more like O nigra. Very nice.

Claire Goodwin Not sure why it's not showing up here but I think this is Ophiopholis aculeata (see album comments).

Bernard Picton Ophiopholis aculeata is a species which seems to have dramatically declined in Northern Ireland since the 1980 Northern Ireland Sublittoral Survey. It might be a very good species to monitor as a climate change indicator.

George Brown Ophiopholis aculeata is fairly common in Loch Duich but rarely caught out in the open the way Holly has photographed it.

Bernard Picton They used to be common in the open in some parts of Northern Ireland, especially in the Modiolus modiolus (Horse mussel) beds in Strangford Lough. We just don't know how much climate change has affected that habitat as it was simultaneously trashed by the Queen Scallop fishery...

Holly Latham Thank you... will now be going to take a closer look at the original image! :)

Message posted on Seasearch Identifications on 05 Feb 2013
Animalia (Kingdom)
  Echinodermata (Phylum)
    Asterozoa (Subphylum)
      Ophiuroidea (Class)
        Ophiurida (Order)
          Ophiurina (Suborder)
            Gnathophiurina (Infraorder)
              Ophiactidae (Family)
                Ophiopholis (Genus)
                  Ophiopholis aculeata (Species)
Associated Species