Starfish stampede

Bristol Aquarium is awash with close to a century of spiky starfish.

The five-legged invertebrates have been donated to the Harbourside attraction after being caught by fishermen.

The bumper haul was initially looked after in the aquarium’s quarantine area before being distributed throughout their native marine displays.

To celebrate their arrival, aquarists have set up a festive Starfish Trail filled with fascinating starfish-related facts and figures.

Bristol Aquarium’s Paul Strachan said: “It’s unusual to have such a large number of starfish arriving at the aquarium in one go.

“Some fishermen consider starfish to be pests but they’re extremely popular with our visitors”.

“They’re also fascinating creatures with some amazing adaptations which allow them to prosper in a variety of different marine environments,” he added.

Starfish are active carnivores, preying on molluscs by forcing their shells open with their tube-feet. The stomach is then pushed into the prey liquefying it so that it can be easily digested.

In shallow waters dense congregations of starfish can be found over an expanse of several kilometres, sometimes numbering in their millions.

A single female is capable of releasing up to 2.5 million eggs. Fertilised eggs develop into larvae which are able to swim about. These larvae swim for about three weeks before settling and beginning metamorphosis into the more familiar and sedentary starfish.

Often blamed for attacks on mussel and oyster farms, fishermen would historically cut starfish up and throw them back into the sea, not realising this would actually result in more starfish as a single arm and part of the central disc can replicate into a whole new animal!

For more information and to arrange pictures and interviews please contact Sarah Moore or Paul Strachan on 0117 929 8929.