DO You Know?

27 February, 2020 12:00 AM printer

•    Feather stars are unstalked crinoids that live in both shallow water and the depths of the ocean. Their scientific name, crinoid, comes from the Greek words for ‘lily’ (krinon) and ‘form’ (eidos), and it’s not hard to see why their first observer named them such. Graceful, flowing arms like fern branches flow in the water column, grabbing bits of plankton passing by.

•    Without a stalk, they are able to move ever so slightly across the sea floor. Using modern technology, researchers have recorded feather stars moving at up to 5 centimeters per second. Although this might not seem like an incredible speed, it is essential for their health and survivability. Their speed primarily depends on gender, native tendencies, and vicinity of predators.

•    The stem, the calyx, and the arms are three main sections of a crinoid. Connected by thin ligamentary tissue, these parts of the body often regenerate to maintain an inner layer of protection. Feather stars are known for being self sufficient. Their bodies have evolved over time to decompose and recuperate when necessary.

•    Crinoids consume small food particles floating around the ocean. With feather arms and tubular feet, they are able to trap any edibles using a sticky mucus that feeds into the mouth. Because feather stars do not have an official stomach, consumables cycle through their body in waves while still providing nutrition. Crinoids produce waste that quickly dissolves into nearby corral or rocks.

•    These marine animals reproduce every 10-16 months. Reproduction consists of a larval stage, free swimming period, and pinnule stage. Male and female creatures often live in different habitats, which makes breeding periods unique to the colony. Natural events are particularly dangerous to the species, as their life cycles depend on strict timeframes. If a mating season is disrupted, the nearby population could be in jeopardy.