Ophiuroidea

The species diversity of ophiuroids on the GBR is impressive, with species in the families Ophiocomidae, Ophiotrichidae and Ophiodermatidae being well rep resented (Figs 26.6, 26.7). Ophiocoma and Macrophiothrix species are a diverse assemblage of large species. Several genera are in need of revision, with cryptic species evident. Ophiuroids are often common shoreward of coral habitats where many species are sympatric, aggregating under slabs of coral rubble and in crevices. Along the GBR these include Ophiarachnella gorgonia (Fig. 26.7B), Ophiolepis elegans (Fig. 26.7D), Ophiocoma dentata (Fig. 26.6A), O. erinaceus (Fig. 26.6C), O. scolo-pendrina (Fig. 26.6B), Ophionereis porrecta (Fig. 26.7F) and Macrophiothrix species (Fig. 26.7G, H). Ophiuroids also inhabit the reef infrastructure and soft sediments. Ophiocoma scolopendrina (Fig. 26.6B) is the most con

Figure 26.5 Holothuroidea. A, Stichopus chloronotus (x 0.15); B, Stichopus herrmanni (x 0.17); C, Stichopus monotu-berculatus (x 0.20); D, Stichopus vastus (x 0.18); £, Thelenota ananas (x 0.14); F, Actinopyga sp. (surf red fish) (x 0.17) (photo: S. Walker); C, Actinopyga tentacles (x 0.50); H, Actinopyga echinites (x 0.13); /, Actinopyga miliaris (x 0.11). (Photos: M. Byrne, unless noted.)

Figure 26.5 Holothuroidea. A, Stichopus chloronotus (x 0.15); B, Stichopus herrmanni (x 0.17); C, Stichopus monotu-berculatus (x 0.20); D, Stichopus vastus (x 0.18); £, Thelenota ananas (x 0.14); F, Actinopyga sp. (surf red fish) (x 0.17) (photo: S. Walker); C, Actinopyga tentacles (x 0.50); H, Actinopyga echinites (x 0.13); /, Actinopyga miliaris (x 0.11). (Photos: M. Byrne, unless noted.)

spicuous ophiuroid in the Indo-Pacific. This species specialises in shallow habitats that are emersed at low tide where it reaches densities up to 320 m2 and is often seen feeding on surface scum at low tide.

Ophiuroids have varied diets with many being filter feeders, extending their arms from their hiding places in the reef infrastructure to feed. This is often at night. Burrowing amphiurid ophiuroids keep their disc below the surface of the sediment and extend their arms into the water column to filter feed. Ophiodermatids are predators and scavengers. Ophiarachna incrassata (Fig. 26.7A), a spectacular ophiodermatid, traps fishes under its arms and also feeds on carrion left behind by major predators. It has been seen scavenging turtle flesh left behind by tiger sharks.

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