Feather Stars and the Wonderful Weirdness of Marine Invertebrates - Observation of the Week, 6/8/19

Our Observation of the Week is this feather star, seen in Indonesia by @maridom!

“When I began diving some 25 years ago, I marveled at the beauty of sea life and was astonished to discover so many colors and forms, so many animals never seen on land,” says Maridom. “Then I became interested to learn more about the ecosystem and biology.”

And while she says most new divers think mainly about seeing fish, she likes to emphasize the beauty and diversity of marine invertebrates in when teaches marine biology courses. “I mostly am interested in phyla which seem weird to us terrestrial beings, such as Cnidaria and Echinodermata,” she says. “And during my last trip to The Philippines, I jokingly became known as ‘Queen of Ascidiacea’!

As soon as I see something beautiful under the sea, I point my camera to it and sometimes I come away with a successful photo! The photo of this Comatula this one of those: the colors are nicely contrasted and the shape of its arms are so delicately drawn.”

While sea stars and sea urchins are more familiar members of the Phylum Echinodermata, feather stars like the one Maridom photographed belong to a totally different subphylum called Crinozoa, which are also called sea lilies. They often have ten or more arms surrounding the mouth, and capture planktonic organisms with tube feet on the arms, moving the food down the arm in a blob of mucus.

Maridom (above, in Egypt) has been taking photographs on her dives for the last decade, and she tells me “it changed my way of diving and looking at living beings, even the small and weird ones, and I could not do without it now. Then, at home, trying to identify the species in my photographs brings back happy memories of the trip. I like to call things by their name while diving, as if I was part of their world.”

She discovered iNaturalist about three months ago, and has been uploading photos from her archive. “Each morning when I open my computer, the first thing I do is see if my unidentified strange things have now received an ID. Many thanks to all identifiers!

I love the way iNaturalist works, where all over the world, people keep connected and give from their personal time to help identify observations from others. I think, probably, when I was in The Philippines  last month, it changed my way of taking pictures and looking at unknown things.”

- by Tony Iwane. Some quotes have been lightly edited for clarity and flow.

- Feather stars can swim and crawl, both of which look really cool and strange.

Posted by tiwane tiwane, June 09, 2019 00:06



Excellent! The oceans are like another planet... a wonderful one.

Posted by susanhewitt about 1 month ago (Flag)

So beautiful and incredible!

Posted by tigerbb about 1 month ago (Flag)

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