feather starfish, Himerometra Robustipinna (3)

photo: Mark Laita

feather starfish, Himerometra Robustipinna (6)

photo via: toofishy.com

Habitat: widespread in the western Pacific and in the Indian Ocean, from Bay of Bengal up to China Sea, Great Barrier Reef, Indonesia, Philippines, South Japan
Status: No Conservation Concerns

The Feather Starfish (Himerometra robustipinna) looks like something that should be found on the planet Pandora rather than here on Earth. At first glance this unassuming creature resembles little more than some underwater vegetation – it even seems to be attached to rocks via roots! However, those aren’t bushy frawns billowing in the ocean current, they’re the sea star’s arms which move gracefully in the water, catching bits of detritus for food. And those ‘roots’ – ya, those are actually appendages called cirri which it uses to cling to corals and rocks.

The most incredible feature of the Feather Starfish is that it has the ability to swim and boy, when it does it is quite a sight to behold! Check out this video of one in an aquarium:

and then this video of a darker specimen swimming freely along the ocean floor:

it’s like a little, swimming flower alien! Incredible.