A brittlestar (Asteronyx loveni)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.Map Help



Asteronyx loveni displays the characteristic brittle star body plan with a flat central disc and five distinctly demarcated thin arms. As a member of the order Euryalida, its arms are usually moved vertically and the discs and arms are covered with thick skin. It has long, unbranched arms, up to 35 cm in length, that coil towards the ends. Asteronyx loveni has a fairly large disc, up to 3.5 cm in diameter. It is pink or reddish in colour.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Usually found off the south-west coasts of Britain and Ireland, but has been found as far north as the Highlands in Scotland.

Global distribution



Asteronyx loveni is a benthic and epizoic species often found encircling the sea pens such as Funiculina quadrangularis or Gorgonian sea fans at depths over 100 m.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Disc up to 35 mm in diameter.
  • Long, coiling arms up to 35 cm in length.
  • Arms and disc are covered with thick skin.
  • Radial shield show up as prominent ridges.
  • Small spine-like mouth papillae.
  • Up to 9 spines on each arm segment.

Additional information

A sausage-shaped copepod, Chordeumium obesum, is sometimes found in surface crevices of the brittlestar (Southward & Campbell, 2006).

Listed by

- none -


  1. Barker, M., 2001. Echinoderms 2000: Proceedings of the 10th International Echinoderm Conference. CRC Press Inc

  2. Hayward, P.J. & Ryland, J.S. (ed.) 1995b. Handbook of the marine fauna of North-West Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  3. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  4. Laffargue, P., Garren, F. & Duhamel, E., 2020. EVHOE 2020 Cruise, RV Thalassa, https://doi.org/10.17600/18000661

  5. Mortensen, T.H., 1927. Handbook of the echinoderms of the British Isles. London: Humphrey Milford, Oxford University Press.

  6. Picton, B.E., 1993. A field guide to the shallow-water echinoderms of the British Isles. London: Immel Publishing Ltd.

  7. Southward, E.C. & Campbell, A.C., 2006. Echinoderms. The Linnean Society of London. Avon: The Bath Press. [Synopses of the British Fauna No. 56.]


  1. NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas. Available from: https://www.nbnatlas.org.

  2. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. www.iobis.org. Accessed: 2024-06-20


This review can be cited as:

Barnes, M.K.S. 2008. Asteronyx loveni A brittlestar. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 20-06-2024]. Available from: https://marlin.ac.uk/species/detail/132

Last Updated: 22/05/2008