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, July 2006)|
How to Distinguish from Similar Species: This is the only local species of brittle stars that has the supplementary plates.
Geographical Range: Worldwide, especially north temperate. On our coasts, Bering Sea to Santa Barbara, CA; most abundant in the north.
Depth Range: Lower intertidal to 2000 m
Habitat: Rocky intertidal or kelp holdfasts
Biology/Natural History: This is the main species common on rocky shores in our area. Others can be found in gravelly areas or in areas with boulders interspersed with sand. They feed by capturing food with their tube feet, by picking up detritus, or by mucus secreted by the rays. Predators include fish and harlequin ducks. Ovaries are red and testes are white. In our area they may spawn in Jan-March, July, October, or November. In the USSR (White sea), spawning seems to follow a lunar cycle. Metamorphosis from the larval stage does not occur until 83-216 days after fertilization.
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Johnson and Snook, 1955
Lambert and Austin, 2007
McConnaughey and McConnaughey, 1985
Morris et al., 1980
O'Clair and O'Clair, 1998
Closeup of the central disk (aboral side) of the individual above. The aboral side of the disk is covered with small, conical spines which are larger toward the margins. It has conspicuous lobes between the arms, and may appear inflated.
The "dorsal" (aboral) plates on the rays are separated by small secondary 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..