Marine Wildlife Encyclopedia
Passion Flower Feather Star Ptilometra australis
This stout feather star has 18–20 arms with long, stiff side branches called pinnules; the arms are different lengths, giving it a flowerlike appearance when viewed from above. They are called passion flowers by fishermen because they are brought up in large numbers by commercial trawlers, clinging tightly to their nets. These feather stars are found in reefs and also in very shallow, sheltered bays and estuaries. Like most feather stars, the passion feather star is a filter feeder that grips onto the tops of rocks, sponges, and sea fans, where it spreads its arms wide to trap plankton and suspended detritus. It remains expanded both day and night but, like other feather stars, it can curl up its arms if disturbed or while resting. Its usual color is a burgundy red.