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Phylum Echinodermata > Class Stelleroida > Subclass Asteroidea
Red scaly sea star
Nepanthia belcheri
Family Asterinidae
updated Jul 2020

Where seen? This small sea star is sometimes seen on undisturbed Northern shores on sandy areas near seagrasses and on rubble. It has also been seen on Cyrene. It appears to be seasonal. Usually seen alone. According to Lane it was first seen in Singapore in the 1930s and rediscovered in 1991. According to Marsh and Fromont, it is found clinging to the underside of boulders on muddy sand and rock substrate in Australia.

Diameter with arms 5-7cm. A rounded star (not flat) with long plump arms like half a cylinder with a flat base and rounded tips. It usually has five arms, but some with four and six arms have been seen. The upper side is covered with 'scales'. When submerged tiny transparent finger-like structures (papulae) might be seen on the upperside giving the sea star a fuzzy appearance. Colours vary from red, maroon, purple, brown with mottled, irregular patterns that blend well with the surroundings. The underside is pale, with orange or red grooves where the tube feet emerge. The transparent tube feet are tipped with suckers.

What does it eat? According to Marsh and Fromont, it eats sponges, hydroids, soft corals and detritus.

Cyrene Reef, May 08

Upperside with 'scales' and papulae.


Beting Bronok, Aug 05

Cyrene Reef, Jul 08

Beting Bronok, Aug 05

Red scaly sea stars on Singapore shores
On wildsingapore flickr

Other sightings on Singapore shores

Beting Bronok, Jun 10
Photo shared by Toh Chay Hoon on her blog.

Beting Bronok, Jun 17
Photo shared by Marcus Ng on facebook.

Beting Bronok, Jul 23
Photo shared by Che Cheng Neo on facebook.

Pulau Sekudu, Apr 09
Photo shared by Toh Chay Hoon on her blog.

Pulau Sekudu, Apr 09
Photo shared by Toh Chay Hoon on her blog.

Chek Jawa, Aug 20
Photo shared by Jianlin Liu on facebook.

Beting Bronok, Jul 22
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on facebook.

Cyrene, Aug 17
Photo shared by Toh Chay Hoon on facebook.

  • Loisette M. Marsh and Jane Fromont. Field Guide to Shallow Water Seastars of Australia. 2020. Western Australian Museum. 543pp.
  • Lane, David J.W. and Didier Vandenspiegel. 2003. A Guide to Sea Stars and Other Echinoderms of Singapore. Singapore Science Centre. 187pp.
  • Didier VandenSpiegel et al. 1998. The Asteroid fauna (Echinodermata) of Singapore with a distribution table and illustrated identification to the species. The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 1998 46(2): 431-470.
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