Brittlestar – forty years ago in my nature notebooks

Forty years ago I was scouring the beaches at Tenby looking for any interesting living creatures. As is so common, I only found dead ones. There were dozens of Brittle Stars washed up on the beaches. I made sure to draw them, measure them and describe them in my nature notebooks, which I had just started on that holiday.

Brittle Star - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

What I didn’t say was that the mouth of a Brittle Star also functions as the anus, so Brittle Stars are closely related to Politicians.

Now, here I am with my head in a rock pool and there’s a Brittle Star and this time it’s alive.

There are 2,000 or so species of Brittle Star so I’m not attempting to identify it (although the thought of it being a Common Brittle Star is quite appealing). Most of them live in water deeper than 200 metres, so that does limit the possibilities somewhat. It’s taken me a while, but I’m thrilled to have found a live one at last.

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