The Starlet Cushion Starfish (Asterina gibbosa) is a small marine (saltwater) invertebrate (without an inner skeleton) echinoderm. It is not a fish. Zoologists prefer to call it the Starlet Cushion Sea Star.
The Starlet Cushion Starfish has five short blunt arms and a puffy appearance that looks like a cushion. Its upper surface has short, sharp spines. It can be blue, brown, green, or orange. Its mouth is on its underside in the centre.
It measures about 5 centimetres (2 inches).
The Starlet Cushion Starfish is native to the Atlantic Ocean, from the oceans of Scotland and Ireland in the north to Morocco in the south, and the Mediterranean Sea. It prefers saltwater and lives on the bottom of the ocean on the sea floor, or in pools, on rocks and boulders.
It is mainly nocturnal. It feeds on bacteria, seaweed, and organisms that live on the surface of rocks. It feeds by everting its stomach (turning it inside out) against the surface of the rock and secreting enzymes which digest the organism.
The Starlet Cushion Starfish is hermaphroditic that is born male and later changes to a female. It lays a mass of eggs on the seabed.
It may live for about 6 years.
[Location of photographs: Aquarium de Paris-Cinéaqua, France]
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM