It's the Feather Starfish! I'm going to post a video and several pics below to prove that this species of echinoderms are all of the things I said they are above. But first, some amazing facts:
- An echinoderm is another name for starfish, sea urchins, sand dollars, sea cucumbers, and sea lillies.
- Feather Starfish are a common sight at the Great Barrier Reef.
- There are over 1,800 known species of starfish globally, and Feather Starfish make up over 500 of those species! That's how many different variations are known to exist!
- Feather Starfish are much different than "normal" starfish. Feather Star fish have "feet" - called cirri - that latch onto fan coral or other perches. Instead of feeding from the bottom, underside of the starfish (like normal ones do), feather starfish extend their "feather" arms out into the water. These arms have a sticky substance on them which filters food out of the water currents, and then passes the food down their arms into their mouth.
- Unlike normal starfish, Feather Starfish don't have just five limbs. Rather, they're known to have between 20 - 200!
- The way they breed is fascinating. They breed by releasing sperm and eggs into the surrounding water. The eggs hatch to produce larvae. After a few days, they hatch and float down to the ocean floor where they undergo a metamorphosis into the adult form.
Now for some pics showing the amazing diversity of this beautiful species: