Common Sunstar

  • Scientific name: Crossaster papposus
  • Size: Usually 10 – 20cm across, but can reach 50cm across.
  • Distribution: Found on a worldwide basis from polar seas to European waters to the Pacific.

The common sunstar is a species of starfish found in some areas of the UK. It is more common down the western coasts of the British Isles, but having limited and sporadic populations elsewhere around Britain. They have a presence in many other parts of the world, being found in the seas of the United States of America, Russia, Australia and Japan. Generally the common sunstar is found over mixed ground seabeds with moderate or limited tidal flow. They can often be found in the same habitat as brittlestars. The common sunstar consists of a central disc with small arms protruding from the sides. The number of arms differs and can be anywhere between eight and sixteen, with eleven being the average number. The body and legs are covered in small bristly spines. The colour can range from a vivid red or orange with with circles to a much duller brown. Common sunstars are usually 10 to 20cm across, but can be up to half a metre across at the very largest. The common sunstar is a predator and scavenger, feeding on creatures such as sea urchins, shellfish and other, smaller starfish species. They will also feed on carrion and all manner of dead organic matter they come across.

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