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Brittle star on coral

Brittle star on coral

Z570/0006

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Credit

PETER SCOONES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PETER SCOONES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Brittle star on soft coral. Unidentified brittle star (subclass Ophiuroidea, yellow/white) on a soft coral (Dendronephthya sp.). Brittle stars are invertebrates with small, disc-like bodies and five long, fragile arms. They are named for their tendency to lose a limb when handled. Lost limbs are later regenerated. Brittle stars are mainly active at night, feeding on small crustaceans, molluscs and bottom debris. The red tentacles of the coral polyps are used for sifting food particles from the water. Most corals feed on minute animals (zooplankton), but Dendronephthya sp. feeds mainly on phytoplankton (tiny plants and algae). Photographed in the Red Sea.

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