Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Most Northerly Record of Small Cushion Star!

Little Cushion Star - Asterina phylactica
Starfish or Sea Star

Found by me April 26th 2009
First record for Fair Isle and for Shetland
About 400 miles north of any other known record of this species.

Small Cushion Stars are very small. Adults are only about 1.5cm

Description: A very small cushion star with a spiny dorsal surface. There is a star-like pattern of darker brown or green pigment along the centre of the arms and paler areas between the arms. Up to 1.5cm. across. This species was only recognised recently (1979) little is known about it.

Habitat: A frequent species in some very exposed sites on the west coast of Ireland at 10 - 20m. Also found intertidally in large rock pools and on rocks.

Distribution: Known from the west coast of Ireland, Strangford Lough, and SW Britain. Also found in the Mediterranean.

  • Star-like pattern of darker pigment.
  • Small size, only 1.5cm in diameter.
  • Broods its young.

Second Fair Isle Record in photo
Second, Third and Fourth Records - July 4th 2011

I was catching stuff and rockpooling by myself while Dad was working in his art studio at the lighthouse. I was so excited when I found my second Little Cushion Star! It had been over 2 years ago I found my first and I go tidepooling all the time. I ran back screaming to show my Dad. Dad was frozen when he saw it and then said AWESOME! and took some photos. It was laying eggs! I went back to look for more. Dad said leave them there if you find more... and I did! 2 more! I was so happy.

The next day Nick wanted to see where I found them? So Dad, Nick and I all went back to the tidepool  at low tide and we found a whole breeding colony! 20 or more Little Cushion Stars. I needed Dad to move the big rocks and we all said well done to each other. We wondered if it has anything to do with global warming?

I can't beleave that they live here now, not just one lost in the currents of the Sea an Ocean.

This is the tidepool I found them in.
Southlighthouse - Fair Isle, Shetland Islands, Scotland, UK.

Checked all the other tidepools with my Dad,
oddly this is the only tidepool we could find them in?

They can be hard to find! Can you see all 4 on the bottom of this rock?

also recently I found some baby Lumpsuckers (Lumpfish)
and a baby Squat Lobster both new tidepool finds for me!
It's brilliant to have no school! I have more time to explore and find things.

Young Lumpsuckers

Tiny Squat Lobster

Fair Isle's go to Naturalist - Nick Riddiford

When ever I find something Dad and I don't know what it is? I go to Nick.
I like to help Nick. He records nature records and sightings on Fair Isle where we live.
He is trying to turn Fair Isle into a Marine Park.

Fair Isle Marine Environment & Tourism Initiative


  1. Finding a breeding colony is so much more exciting and important than finding a rare species!
    Good for you Henry!

  2. This is fantastic Henry! Ella, the Little Minnow, congratulates you on your discovery! And what an interesting blog you wrote on the special creatures!
    Deb, Dave & Ella

  3. Jen gottschall12 July 2011 at 08:29

    Good eye Henry! It's pretty awesome that you keep finding new things each time you look. Can't wait to see what else you find!

  4. Way to go, Henry! How exciting....thanks so much for posting, so that we can all enjoy them. They are just the CUTEST little critters! Annie John, Greenfield Center, NY :o)

  5. Congratulations Henry, I will have a look for one the next time I am on the west coast of Ireland, but I doubt that I will be say lucky, or as observant as you! A young scientist in the making! Fiona & Andy, Saratoga Springs NY

  6. Congratulations to the small cushion stars who were found by an even bigger STAR! Great work Henry Lad, jack :) believe in the magic of nature!

  7. All the pictures are stunning and awesome.

  8. Beautiful picture :)