Starfish are “bleached white” — Attached to “graveyard” of coral which “suggests that they have nowhere else to go”


Graveyard of deep-sea corals found in Gulf, New Scientist, November 8, 2010:

A graveyard of deep-sea gorgonian corals has been discovered 11 kilometres south-west of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. ...

Deep-sea corals inhabit the cold, dark waters thousands of metres below sea level, where they harbour marine organisms such as urchins, crabs and sea stars. "I was quite surprised to see brittle stars wrapped around dying coral colonies. That suggests that they have nowhere else to go," [Charles Fisher, a biologist at Pennsylvania State University in University Park] says.

Scientists Discover Dying Corals and Creatures Near Deep Water Horizon Oil-Spill Site in the Gulf, PSU website, November 5, 2010:

Credit: Lophelia II 2010; NOAA OER and BOEMRE

A portion of one of the impacted corals and two attached brittle starfish. Living tissue is orange and most of the skeleton is bare or covered by brown flocculent material. The brittle starfish are normal symbiotic partners of this type of coral. The brittle star on the left shows a more normal coloration for this species and the individual on the right is bleached white and much more tightly wrapped around the branch than normal. Both starfish were uncharacteristically immobile.

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