Feeding basket star

Sea life: Basket stars

Basket stars at Klein Tafelberg
Basket stars at Klein Tafelberg

I have only ever seen basket stars in the Tafelberg Reef complex. They are found elsewhere, but I haven’t dived anywhere else they are found. After the first dive I did on Tafelberg, I was so excited that I started yelling as soon as my head popped out of the water. These creatures are magnificent, and appeal to me as a (former) mathematician.

Basket star on Tafelberg Reef
Basket star on Tafelberg Reef

Their long arms branch repeatedly, like fractals. In the image above, the arms are folded in.  To feed, the basket star extends one or all of its arms into the water column to catch plankton and other microscopic snacks. They favour areas with currents that carry food past them.

Basket star arm
Basket star arm

Basket stars are related to brittle stars and starfish (they are echinoderms), and are generally found in deeper water. At Tafelberg Reef they are found on the sides of the large granite outcrops that comprise the reef. They grow incredibly slowly and can weigh a couple of kilograms when at maximum size.

Feeding basket star
Feeding basket star

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Clare

Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

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