These Sci-Fi Creatures Live Under Rocks At The Beach
These bizarre, 5 legged creatures live in the shallows in the ocean under almost every rock or chunk of coral. They also live in the deep. They live EVERYWHERE. They are called Brittle Stars or Serpent Stars. They look like a strange mix of a spider, a starfish and an octopus all combined to create creatures for a horror movie.
They can grow to a size of two feet across. They wiggle their arms for propulsion across the ocean floor and they will seek out cover as quickly as they can reach it. They prefer the cover of rocks and coral and they actively flee from the light.
The brittle star looks terrifying and creepy, but in fact, they are completely harmless. They eat decaying matter and plankton, doing a great job of keeping the ocean clean.
Shockingly, they eat by pushing their stomachs out through their mouths to digest their meals. Nutrients are taken in through the mouth after digestion.
Even more surprisingly, brittle stars do not have a brain. They have a simple ring of nerve cells that move information around the body. Their arms are covered in tube feet that have sensors to detect light. Sensors in the feet also help the Brittle Star process smells to detect food.
Like sea stars, if a brittle star loses an arm, or a part of an arm, it will regenerate.
While beach-goers may be horrified to know that these wiggling, slithering creatures live in abundance under almost every rock under their feet, it should be remembered that they pose no threat to people and that they are extremely beneficial. Without creatures like Brittle Stars, swimmers would be wading through decaying matter instead of clean sand.
Most people will never actually see Brittle Stars because they are so reclusive and reluctant to come out in the open during the day. But for the adventurous, all you need to do is turn over a rock on any tropical beach and you are likely to find a handful of them.