Under the sea is a wild place full of fantastic creatures, from crazy new jellyfish to … starfish that looks like ravioli? Yes, you read that right! Scientists recently filmed the Plinthaster dentatus starfish on video and, well, it looks like it might be stuffed with spinach and cheese (it’s not).
While scientists have filmed this species previously, this is the first time that it was captured feeding on video. So, kind of a big deal, as far as starfish go.
The starfish was spotted in the Atlantic Ocean off the southeast coast of the United States by the Okeanos Explorer, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) ship. The NOAA is a federal organization that explores the deep-sea ocean in the Atlantic, the Pacific Ocean, the Arctic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.
Scientists aboard the Okeanos were pretty excited about the discovery.
“One of the sea star species we’ve encountered most frequently so far has been this goniasterid sea star, Plinthaster dentatus, sometimes called a cookie’ or ‘ravioli’ star!” Wrote Chris Mah, Ph.D., a starfish expert who works at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, in a blog post on the NOAA website. (“Goniasterid” means it is part of the Goniasteridae family of sea stars, also called “biscuit stars.”)
“This species stands out because the arms and disk are nearly confluent, thus presenting a more pentagonal shape relative to other sea stars,” he continued.
— Christopher Mah (@echinoblog) June 27, 2019
The video captured during the dive will help scientists learn more about this strange, pasta-like starfish.
“Among the most important outcomes of these dives, aside from recognizing previously unknown species, are observations of known species in the process of performing their basic day-to-day biology, feeding, spawning, etc.,” wrote Mah. “This species’ biology has been largely unknown despite the fact that the species has been known since 1884.”
In addition to the ravioli starfish, Mah also captured the elusive sthenaster emmae starfish on video, which was the first time he had ever seen it.
Seeing starfish might not seem like such a big deal, but it’s clearly exciting for the scientists who go on expeditions to learn more about our world. Maybe you should grab your mask and snorkel and head to the beach — who knows what you’ll discover?