This brittle star is distinctive
in this area because the plates on the aboral surface of the rays are
from one another by smaller supplementary plates (photo).
The rays have five spines on the lateral plates (photo),
the middle of which is the largest. Color and pattern are extremely
The color usually includes red stripes or blotches, usually
with brown but sometimes with green. Flora and Fairbanks
it can sometimes be black and white or gray and brown. The
is whitish (photo).
Ophiopholis aculeata (Linnaeus, 1767)
Common name(s): Daisy brittle star,
Painted brittle star,
Ubiquitous brittle star
|Ophiopholis aculeata from a subtidal
rock, Deception Pass, WA
|(Photo by: Dave Cowles,
How to Distinguish from
This is the only local species of brittle stars that has the
north temperate. On our coasts, Bering Sea to Santa Barbara,
most abundant in the north.
Lower intertidal to 2000
intertidal or kelp holdfasts
This is the
main species common on rocky shores in our area. Others can
in gravelly areas or in areas with boulders interspersed with
They feed by capturing food with their tube feet, by picking up
or by mucus secreted by the rays. Predators include fish and
ducks. Ovaries are red and testes are white. In our
may spawn in Jan-March, July, October, or November. In the
sea), spawning seems to follow a lunar cycle. Metamorphosis
the larval stage does not occur until 83-216 days after fertilization.
and Carlton, 1975
and Snook, 1955
and Austin, 2007
and McConnaughey, 1985
et al., 1980
and O'Clair, 1998
General Notes and
Observations: Locations, abundances,
Closeup of the central disk (aboral side) of the individual
The aboral side of the disk is covered with small, conical spines which
are larger toward the margins. It has conspicuous lobes
arms, and may appear inflated.
The "dorsal" (aboral) plates on the rays are separated by small
plates, as can be seen here.
This is a view of the aboral side of a
ray. The five
spines projecting from the lateral plates can be seen to the sides.
The yellow tube feet can be seen projecting from the other, oral side
of the ray
The underside of the mouth and the rays are white..
Authors and Editors of Page:
Dave Cowles (2006): Created original page