Brittle Stars

Brittle stars or ophiuroids are Echinoderms in the class Ophiuroidea closely related to the Starfish. They crawl across the sea floor using their flexible arms for locomotion. The ophiuroids generally have five long, slender, whip-like arms which may reach up to 60 cm (24 in) in length on the largest specimens.

The Ophiuroidea contain two large clades (family tree), Ophiurida (brittle stars) and Euryalida (basket stars). Many of the ophiuroids are rarely encountered in the relatively shallow depths normally visited by humans, but they are a diverse group. Over 2,000 species of brittle stars live today. More than 1200 of these species are found in deep waters, greater than 200 m deep.