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Echinoderms

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Reticulate Brittle Star (Ophioneresis reticulata)
Reticulate Brittle Star
(Ophioneresis reticulata)

This small starfish is characterized by five long, thin arms protruding from a central disk. The arms grow to a length of 3 inches, and are usually colored with white and brown rings. This is a very common species in the waters off the coast of Florida. It can be found in sandy areas and under rocks on the coral reef.

Basket Star (Astrophyton muricatum)
Basket Star
(Astrophyton muricatum)

The basket star is a species with a quite alien look. They are common throughout the Caribbean region. The arms of the basket star can reach a length of 20 inches, and are used to filter plankton and other small organisms from the water. It is a nocturnal animal, feeding at night and wrapping itself into a tight ball during the day.

Feather Starfish (Lamprometra palmata)
Feather Starfish
(Lamprometra palmata)

The feather starfish is an unusual species that looks more like a plant than a starfish. It ranges in color from brown to orange, yellow, and black. Like the basket star, the feather starfish is a filter feeder. It is nocturnal, and at night it can be found with its long arms unfurled where it filters plankton from the water.

 
Purple Sea Urchin (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus)
Purple Sea Urchin
(Strongylocentrotus purpuratus)

The purple sea urchin is one of the sharp-spined urchin species. The spines are used as a means of defense against would-be predators. This urchin is deep purple in color, and grows to a diameter of about 4 inches. The are found along the western coast of the United States and Canada where they clink to depressions in the rocks during low tide.

Rock-boring Urchin (Echinometra lucunter)
Rock-boring Urchin
(Echinometra lucunter)

This species of urchin is common in the waters of the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. It grows to a diameter of 2 inches, and ranges in color from red to brown and black. It has large, sharp spines about 3/4 inches long. This urchin can be found in burrows in the rocks, which are created by the scraping action of its teeth.

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