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Conservation Corner: Dwarf Cushion Star

The Dwarf cushion star is a tiny, flattened, pentagonal, starfish with poorly developed arms. The dorsal surface is made up of tile-like plates, each with a cluster of tiny knob-like spines. They are uniformly khaki-green on the west coast of south Africa and variegated patterns of orange, brown, green and white on the Indian ocean coast. They are 20mm in size and they are abundant in the intertidal zone, but very well camouflaged. They feed by extruding the stomach through the mouth and plastering it onto the rock, thus digesting microscopic algae. Their eggs are laid under rocks and hatch directly into tiny starfish, without a planktonic larval stage.

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