Basket Star, Gargantuan Brittle Star of the Deep Sea

by Owen James Burke

basketstar

(Photo: Charleston Bump Expedition 2003/NOAA)

Ong Han Boon was fishing off Singapore when he hauled in this wiry-looking loosely woven basket. Not knowing what it was, he did the same thing anyone would do this day in age: he posted a video to one of his social media accounts hoping someone could identify it, or not, supposing that it may have been a new species.

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The basket star (Astroboa nuda) is a distant relative of the sea star and sea urchin which can live for up to 35 years and grow to 3 feet in diameter. Living primarily in the deep sea, these gangly critters can be found in waters as shallow as the intertidal zone.

Like all echinoderms, the basket star can regenerate lost limbs, and curl up into a tight ball — or become tightly woven — when threatened. And, instead of having blood, it pumps water throughout its body in order to walk, feed, digest, and produce waste.

Read more on Discovery — OB

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