Hundreds of tiny orange starfish eggs have been laid at Bristol Aquarium and the fascinating cluster can be seen by visitors in the nursery display tanks.
The 200 or so eggs will remain almost microscopic until they undergo metamorphosis into small starfish when visitors will be able to spot their five legs in about 12 months time.
Cushion Stars (Asterina gibbosa) have been living at the Harbourside attraction since 2012 and the team at the Aquarium have been successfully breeding them every year since.
As well as starfish being incredibly popular with visitors they also have another very useful habit – eating the waste produced by juvenile seahorses – and so are incredibly popular with Bristol Aquarium’s team of Aquarists too.
Olivia Orchart, Head of the Zoological Team said: “Our juvenile seahorses eat a lot and so regularly it can be quite time consuming to continuously keep the display looking good.
Olivia added: “We love breeding starfish so much because they help us do our job!”
These starfish are known as protandrous hermaphrodites, meaning that the small or young individuals are males but as they become older and increase in size they develop into females.
Cushion Stars are found in the Mediterranean and around all British coasts except the area from Lincolnshire to Hampshire.
Bristol Aquarium has a number of successful breeding programmes in place from sharks to seahorses. Bristol Aquarium is an all weather attraction open to all from 10am daily. To find out more or buy discounted tickets please click here or call 0117 929 8929.