[Coral-List] Urgently seeking invasive brittle stars

Gordon Hendler Hendler at nhm.org
Mon Aug 13 14:36:22 EDT 2012

Dear Coral Listers,

Clonal, six-armed brittle stars (Ophiothela sp.), previously limited to the Pacific Ocean, have invaded Brazil and St. Vincent, as reported online in Coral Reefs:


Large numbers of the small stars, which can be readily visible on soft corals, sponges, and other hosts, eventually may become abundant from Florida to South America. Their effect on coral and reef ecology remains to be seen.

Your assistance is requested in tracking their spread. I would appreciate receiving reports of sightings of the species and photographs that could be used to confirm identification.

In addition, I would be very grateful for preserved specimens of Ophiothela from the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, which could be used to trace the route of the invasion and to interpret the unresolved systematics of Ophiothela species.

Please contact me (hendler at nhm.org<mailto:hendler at nhm.org>) if you would like additional information about Ophiothela or copies of the article:  G. Hendler, A.E. Migotto, C.R.R. Ventura & L. Wilk. 2012. Epizoic Ophiothela brittle stars have invaded the Atlantic. Coral Reefs.  DOI 10.1007/s00338-012-0936-6.

Thanks for your help!


Gordon Hendler, Ph.D.
Curator of Echinoderms
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
900 Exposition Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90007
tel  213-763-3526
fax 213-746-2999
hendler at nhm.org

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