Happy Red Starfish

The red starfish which you may find when you are next cruising the waters of the Turkish coast is actually known as the Mediterranean Red Sea Star. Its binomial name is "Echinaster sepositus" and its range is all across the Mediterranean, where it is one of the most common sea stars... and I now know why.... This species of sea star loves "turf algae" which grows readily in the warm waters of the region!! The Mediterranean Red Sea Star is found everywhere in the East Atlantic, north of the Equator.... And I'm determined to take a photo the next I find one... so from now on, that's my mission when underwater: to photograph Red Sea Stars.

I think it looks like a jovial animal... with five slender arms around a small central disc.... Each arm is considered a "ray" and tapers off to a fairly sharp point. It is often seen with a diameter of up to 18 cm, but from time to time, It’s possible to come across one with a larger diameter. Imagine the diver's delight coming across a small red starfish, sitting alongside a larger one... just as in the picture here (not taken by the author, but I give credit to the photographer!!). The red starfish is bright orange-red in colour, has a strangely "soapy" surface texture.... and when you get in and look closely, you can see that it is dotted with little pits — deep red gills also known as papullae.

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I've always enjoyed coming across these starfish when snorkelling in Turkish coastal waters. Starfish have always held a certain fascination for me... do you also have a quirky animal that you admire because you can't, for the life of you, imagine what is going on in their heads... or whether they sing.... or what tells them to start spawning? They are as plentiful and colourful as flowers: there are some 2,000 species that are known!


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