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Ophiactis savignyi Lineage B
Image courtesy of Gustav Paulay, Florida Museum of Natural History from CalPhotos ( through Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0) license.
Ophiactis savignyi Lineage B
Taxonomic Group: Echinoderms


Ophiactis savignyi is considered the world's most common and widely distributed brittle star. It was first described from the Red Sea in 1842 and was later found to be widely distributed in the tropical and sub-tropical Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans. Its global distribution and early introduction status make it difficult to determine its native region. We have treated O. savignyi as native to the Indo-Pacific, where it ranges from Japan to the Red Sea, South Africa, and French Polynesia. Further west in the Pacific, where we consider it cryptogenic, O. savignyi ranges from California to Peru, and also occurs in Hawaii, the Galapagos, and Easter Island. Atlantic specimens (from Florida, Bermuda, and the Caribbean coast of Panama) have been found to be identical to their Indo-Pacific counterparts (from Philippines, Sri Lanka, Rarotonga, and Samoa) and we consider them to be introduced. It has also been introduced to the Mediterranean. It inhabits marine fouling communities, especially sponges, and has been found on ships' hulls, buoys, and marine structures. It also has a long-lived planktonic larva, with the potential for ballast water transport. In addition to sexual reproduction, it can reproduce asexually by fission, which is an advantage in colonizing new locations where the possibility of fertilization is low. No impacts have been reported for this species, but it can reach very high densities in some locations.

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Fofonoff PW, Ruiz GM, Steves B, Simkanin C, & Carlton JT (2018)
National Exotic Marine and Estuarine Species Information System.
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