Red starfish (Echinaster (Echinaster) sepositus)

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



A medium-sized, bright orange-red to brick-red starfish with between five and seven slender tapering arms and a small disc. It can reach up to 30 cm in diameter. The surface of the body is slightly rough and bears short spines covered by soft skin. The surface also has regular indentations from which groups of dark red papulae (gill structures) can be extended. The tube feet are arranged in two rows and bear suction discs.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Not recorded from the coast of mainland Britain. Recorded in the Channel Islands and on the French coast of the English Channel.

Global distribution

Recorded from Brittany and into the Mediteranean and the Cape Verde Islands.


Commonly found on rocky substrata in both sheltered and moderately exposed conditions. Also found on muddy, sandy or mixed substrates and amongst eel grass beds. Not found at depths below 200 m.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Bright orange-red to brick-red in colour.
  • Five to seven slender tapering arms.
  • Up to 30 cm in diameter.
  • Body surface has soapy texture and regular indentations.

Additional information

Similar in overall shape to Henricia oculata, but the soft, soapy surface and bright orange-red colouration are very distinctive (Picton, 1993). Adult Henricia oculata are also smaller in diameter.

Listed by

- none -


  1. Crothers, J. A., 1997. A key to the major groups of British marine invertebrates. Field Studies, 9, 1-177.

  2. Hayward, P., Nelson-Smith, T. & Shields, C. 1996. Collins pocket guide. Sea shore of Britain and northern Europe. London: HarperCollins.

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

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

  5. 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:

  2. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. Accessed: 2024-06-25


This review can be cited as:

Reeds, K.A. 2002. Echinaster (Echinaster) sepositus Red starfish. 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 25-06-2024]. Available from:

Last Updated: 11/10/2002