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Ophiurolepis gelida (Koehler, 1901)

provided by British Antarctic Survey

Description

Orangey brown or yellowish brown in colour, with a knobbly disc up to 2cm in diameter, and arms up to 6cm long.

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Species details

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Species distribution

40 to 2,725m on various substrates but mostly mud and soft sediments. Found from Sub-Antarctica and South Georgia to the Antarctic Peninsula and Continent.

Ophiurolepis gelida is an active predator, capturing and feeding on a wide variety of invertebrates and in particular polychaete worms. It also feeds on detritus by gathering surface sediment into small mounds, which it then engulfs, consuming any food within the mud. It is preyed on by another brittle star, Ophiosparte gigas, and by the giant isopod Glyptonotus antarcticus, and possibly by fish and seastars. Ophiurolepis gelida is frequently parasitised by a brown sponge, Iophon radiatus, which grows over the disc and arms of the brittle star and may obscure its colour.

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