One strong feather star Q A

go! - - Upfront Letters -

JO­HAN VISSER from Som­er­set West writes: I found this sea crea­ture on the beach at Stru­is­baai. It was ly­ing very still, but when I ap­proached it moved away. Is it a starfish?

Marine ex­pert GE­ORGINA JONES says: This is a feather star, which be­longs to the same group as starfish. In­ter­est­ing that it walked on land – I’ve never seen that be­fore! Oc­ca­sion­ally we see feather stars swim­ming un­der­wa­ter us­ing their arms – but only to move from perch to perch. They tend to stay in one place and wave their arms through the wa­ter to catch plank­ton. I’m sur­prised that its arms were strong enough to bear its weight – those arms are good for catch­ing food and the oc­ca­sional (short) swim, but beach walk­ing is very un­usual!

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