In the dark waters of the Antarctic, an unknown “sea monster” with an astonishing 20 arms recently emerged – the Antarctic feather star. The researchers had this specimen on ice for years after a near-decade-long expedition during which they collected samples. Only in 2023 did they uncover the latest creature from the deep.
The Antarctic Expedition
This journey into the Antarctic waters spanned almost a decade, from 2008 to 2017. Its primary objective was to study elusive or cryptic sea creatures, especially those belonging to the genus Promachocrinus – commonly referred to as Antarctic feather stars.
While Antarctic Feather Stars bear similarities to starfish and sea cucumbers, they possess a distinct otherworldly appearance, notably when swimming. Their movement, combined with their considerable size, sets them apart in the marine world.
These creatures reside in varying depths, from a relatively shallow 65 feet to an astounding 6,500 feet beneath the waves.
Eight unique species were identified during the expeditions, with half being entirely novel to science. Earlier, only Promachocrinus kerguelensis was unmistakably linked to this genus. A combination of DNA analysis and physical morphology studies led to these recent classifications.
The Strawberry Feather Star
Named Promachocrinus fragarius, this particular discovery stands out. Its body, curiously enough, resembles a strawberry and showcases a range of colors from muted purples to rich reds.
Boasting a staggering 20 arms, this “sea monster” is unlike any other in its category.
The vast number of arms, each intricately designed, adds to its otherworldly presence, particularly when the creature is in motion. When swimming, the feather star presents an ethereal dance in the deep sea, making it a sight to behold.
Unlike other invertebrate ocean animals, the Antarctic Strawberry Feather Star stands out both due to its substantial size and its unique appearance, which is reminiscent of the delicate feathers of a bird, but with a marine twist.
Its habitat in the frozen depths of Antarctica makes its discovery particularly fascinating. Antarctica’s waters are among the least explored due to their harsh and inaccessible nature, making every discovery from this region a notable contribution to marine biology.
The Antarctic Strawberry Feather Star offers a glimpse into the rich biodiversity of our oceans, reminding us of the endless mysteries that lie beneath the waves, waiting to be discovered.