Britain´s Strangest Starfish!
The Scottish SEA LIFE Sanctuary has become home to Britain´s strangest starfish.

Plucked from the bed of Oban bay by a local diver, the decidedly "uncommon" common starfish appears to have sprouted two extra short limbs from the tip of one its customary five!

Independent diver Graham Smith was astonished when he spotted the curious sea creature among rocks on the seabed.
Britain's Strangest Starfish
"I´ve seen starfish with extra arms before," said marine expert Graham, who lives in Lerags.

"It´s well known that a starfish that loses a limb can grow a replacement, and that occasionally it will grow two replacements instead of just the one.

"I´ve never seen or heard of one quite like this before though," he added.

Graham decided the extraordinary echinoderm - the family name for starfish, sea urchins and sea cucumbers - would make a fascinating addition to the SEA LIFE Sanctuary's public displays.

Displays supervisor Pete Coombes agreed, and provided a home for the new arrival in the Sanctuary's popular rockpool feature.

"It´s a real crowd-puller," said Peter, "and everybody wants to know how it came by such an unusual appendage.

"We´re pretty certain that at some point this starfish had the end of one of its arms chewed off by a predator, possibly a dogfish, a seal or even an otter."

"The new growth could be either a single new arm that has grown at right-angles to the original, or more likely two new short arms growing from either side. It´s impossible to be sure just by looking at it."

Whether one arm or two, the result certainly helps captivate the Sanctuary´s visitors, and that can only be a good thing, says Pete.

"Anything that helps engage people and show them just how amazing our native marine life can be, will encourage support for marine conservation efforts," he said.

Common starfish are widespread around Britain and Ireland, living mainly on rocks or gravel beds where they eat shellfish and sea snails.

They can reach a foot long and live for between five and ten years.
Press Release issued by The Scottish SEA LIFE Sanctuary
For more details, please contact Craig Connor on 01631 720386
Date: 22nd February 2013