The Lilly of the Sea. Feather Stars, are one of the most beautiful and peaceful starfish. Their scientific family “Crinoidea” means “Lily Like” in Greek. Makes sense as they do appear to look more like a Flower.
Feather Starfish, a free swimming crinoid, Can be seen in almost all of the best dive spots in the World.
- Feather stars are echinoderms, a group of animals that includes sea urchins, sea cucumber, sea stars, and brittle stars.
- Feather stars can range in color from bright yellow to red.
- Feather Starfish breed by releasing sperm and eggs into the surrounding water during the spring and early summer.
- They are usually active at night and during the day they seek shelter under coral ledges and in the dark crevasses of underwater caves. As darkness descends upon the reef, the feather stars migrate onto reef where they extend their arms into the water currents.
- They find a site to attach to like a rock, pebble, shell, seaweed, or another animal. and lave their eggs. The eggs hatch into larvae. Then the larvae starts growing into a tiny stalked crinoid which normally a pale white color.
As juveniles, Feather starfish are attached to the sea bottom by a stalk with root like branches; the mouth side faces upward. In the adult stage they break away from the stalk and move about freely. Feather starfish have water-vascular (ambulacral) systems, similar to those in other echinoderms, that extend into the branched arms on the body, or crown. The arms arise from a cup-shaped structure at the centre called the calyx. The calyx contains the digestive system and is covered by a soft membrane called the tegmen that may be rounded into a mound or look like a drum skin over the calyx. Unlike sea stars and brittle stars, the feather starfish’s mouth facing upwards. The mouth may be in the centre of the disk or off to one side. The anus is also on the upperside, in some species at the top of a cone or tube that brings it above the feeding current to prevent fouling of the feeding process.
Feather starfish creep about by means of projections at the base of the crown, called cirri, which can grasp bottom objects. Some can swim by undulating movements of the arms. They are marine animals, like all echinoderms, and are widely distributed. They are most common in relatively shallow, warm waters, but some live in cold water and a number of species occur in the ocean depths. Like other members of this class, feather stars may form extremely abundant local aggregations.
Feather starfish also have many more than the traditional 5 arms associated with a starfish. The amount of arms depend on the species and health of the starfish, most species have around 20 arms while some can have over 200. As water flows through their extended arms, food becomes trapped in their tube feet. These arms are covered with a sticky substance which it uses to help catch the passing food and pass it down the stars mouth. It is important not to handle these stars as you can severely disrupt their feeding if they are man-handled.
There are many other critters living off the feather starfish, such as small crabs, shrimps, worms and other tiny animals may live on a feather star, taking some of the food that flows along the arms.