Purple Seastar – Ophidiaster ophidianus

The Purple Seastar is a species in the class of the Starfish and thus belongs to the phylum of the Echinodermata. Ophidiaster ophidianus was first described in 1816 by Lamarck.

Purple Seastar starfish Ophidiaster ophidianus Asteroidea species echinodermata diving canary islands canaries atlantic ocean
Purple Seastar – Ophidiaster ophidianus


The Purple Seastar has a variable colouring. It can appear bright orange, violet, purple or, as in the picture above, orange with irregular violet spots.

The central disc is very small and has five cylindrical arms. On each arm are eight rows with barely perceptible skin protuberances.

It also reaches a size of up to 40cm.

Habitat and Distribution

Ophidiaster ophidianus lives on rocky or sandy ground, in shady reef areas. It is rarely found in sea grass meadows. Thereby it can reach depths of up to 100m.

When diving in the Canaries you can observe it regularly.

Its distribution area also extends from the Azores, along the Portuguese and African coast, via Madeira, Cape Verde, St. Helena, Ascension to the Gulf of Guinea. In the Mediterranean Sea it is also to be found.


There is not much known about the life of the Purple Seastar. Its diet consists of the biofilm of rocks, crustaceans, small fish, detritus and other organic material.

If an arm is bitten off, it can regenerate it quite quickly.

Reproduction of Ophidiaster ophidianus occurs both sexually and asexually.






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