Marine Wildlife Encyclopedia
Tropical Feather Star Oxycomanthus bennetti
All that can usually be seen of the tropical feather star is its numerous feathery arms held up into the water to trap food. This species has about a hundred arms, compared to the ten that most temperate water feather stars have. The arms are attached to a small, disklike body and the mouth is on the upper side of the body, between the arms. The tropical feather star clings to corals using numerous articulated, finger-like appendages called cirri. It prefers elevated positions where it is exposed to food-bearing currents, and is active by both day and night. Like all feather stars, this species starts its early life by becoming attached to the seabed by a stalk—at this stage, it closely resembles a small sea lily. As it matures, the feather star breaks away and becomes free-living, leaving the stalk behind.