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Ophidiaster ophidianus

Ophidiaster ophidianus

Purple starfish

   Ophidiaster ophidianus is a sea star of a diameter of 20 cm but sometimes up to 40 cm. the central disc is small. It has five long arms, round in cross-section and of the same size nearly on its whole length slightly tappering at their end. The arms tighten at the junction with the central disc. On the arms, short respiratory papillae arranged in lines run from the central disc to the arm ends. The purple starfish has variable colour : purple, orange or red sometimes with darker purple patches.
Ophidiaster ophidianus is found on rocks from 5 to 25 m deep in the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean from the Azores to the Canary Islands, Madeira and Guinea Gulf.


 (source : European Register of Marine Species)

  • Echinodermata [Phylum]
  • Asterozoa [Subphylum]
  • Stelleroidea [Class]
  • Asteroidea [Subclass]
  • Valvatida [Order]
  • Ophidiasteridae [Family]
  • Ophidiaster ophidianus (Lamarck, 1816)

Page glossary

Papillae : Kind of tiny bags more or developped on the surface of the starfish and used in breathing.


Top Photo :
© William Desmartin. Published with author's kind permission: 
Ophidiaster ophidianus, Cargèse, Corsica, South of France. Depth 15 meters.
Text :  Anne Bay-Nouailhat © 2008-2020.
Translation :  Anne Bay-Nouailhat © 2008-2020.

How to cite this page in publications

Bay-Nouailhat A., August 2008, Description of Ophidiaster ophidianus, Available on line at http://www.european-marine-life.org/30/ophidiaster-ophidianus.php, consulted on 05 June 2020.
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