Iconaster longimanus: the most “Iconic” Starfish of the Sea

Iconaster longimanus, icon starfish (2)
Iconaster longimanus, icon starfish (3)

photo: Flickr user Benjamin Naden

Iconaster longimanus, icon starfish (4)

photo: Flickr user Iain Fraser

Iconaster longimanus, icon starfish (2)

photo: Flickr user Dieter

Habitat: west and central Indo-Pacific Ocean
Status: Not Listed

I know what you’re thinking – is this real? It definitely doesn’t look like it… but it is! This is the incredible Icon Star or Double Star (Iconaster longimanus) that comes from the Greek word aster meaning star. The starfish has 5 long, tapering arms that radiate outward from a smaller, central star.

They’re apparently very common in the waters of Singapore where they can be spotted at depths of between 6 to 85 meters (20 to 279 ft) in deep reef areas.

These starfish have a peculiar way of reproducing: they actually lay yolky eggs (like a chicken’s?) that hatch into miniature versions of themselves. There’s no larval stage which is typical of other species of starfish. I don’t know about you, but I’m insanely curious to see what those eggs look like… I’m picturing tiny, transparent yolks filled with itty-bitty stars. And that sounds really, really cool. So divers who might be reading this — if you have pictures of these “iconic starfish” eggs, please share them with us!! :)