Common Name: Giant Basket Star

Scientific Name: Astrophyton Muricatum

 

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Echinodermata

Class: Ophiuroidea

Order: Phrynophiurida

Family: Gorgonocephalidae

Genus: Astrophyton

Species: A. Muricatum

 

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Today I will be telling you about my animal known as the Giant Basket Star. The scientific name of my animal is Astrophyton Muricatum. It can be found in the Caribbean or in the Gulf of Mexico. I am writing this passage so you will know more about the Giant Basket Star.

 

To begin with I will be describing the animal. The normal size of my animal is about 46cm from tip to tip. The colors range from dark brown to a light yellowish brown. When it is ready to feed on plankton it opens up to form a web to catch plankton. During the day it clings on to the reef and curls into a ball. It’s easily spotted by its many arms.

 

Secondly I will be telling you its population, habitat, and conservation. You can find my animal in the Western Atlantic & Caribbean. Its depth ranges from 6 meters to 30 meters.  It is the only species in the genus Astrophyton.

 

Last but not least important is its diet, feeding habits, and predators. Its role in the food chain is reef fish feed on the Giant Basket Star. It eats at night and it eats plankton. It goes to a certain level then rolls into a bowl shape and catches plankton. The Giant Basket Star mostly gets eaten by reef fish like clown fish, trigger fish, and hawk fish. It prevents getting eaten by disguising itself or hiding in holes in the reef.

 

The importance of my animal is if it wasn’t there we wouldn’t have clown fish or a lot of other fish that feed on the Giant Basket Star. What stood out to me was I had never heard of it before and it is a very important asset in the reef.  I’ve been to a couple reefs myself and I have never seen a Giant Basket Star. Next time you go to a reef see how many you can spot.

 

Author: Keenan D.

Date Published: 2/15/13

 

 

Sources: en.wikipedia.org/. Astrophyton, Feb. 6, 2013; Humann P., 1992. Reef Creative Identification-Florida Caribbean Bahamas, New World Publication Inc. Paramount Miller Graphics Inc. Jacksonville, Florida; www.puradivers.com/. Haille, Feb. 6, 2013; www.species-identification.org/  . Interactive Guide to Caribbean Diving, Feb. 6, 2013

 

Photo Credit: http://www.newt.com/wohler/events/2009/roatan/sun/