Runner Up - Nature's Assets
Title:
The planktonic larva of the starfish Luidia sarsi
Photographer:
Richard Kirby
Age Group:
Over 18s
Region:
Europe
Country:
UK
Nature’s Assets Winners' Gallery
Camera Used:
Canon powershot G6
Image caption:

At the sea surface lives a secret world of life called the plankton. Myriad life forms of striking beauty that create the plankton food web that underpins the marine food chain. Many creatures that live on the seabed start their lives drifting at the sea surface as plankton. Not only is the plankton a good place for the young to feed and grow, but the ocean’s surface currents help these seabed creatures to disperse to new places; very much like the wind disperses the seeds of many plants on land. This beautiful 7mm long larva of the starfish Luidia sarsi is unusual among starfish larvae. In most starfish the larval tissues are used to create the juvenile animal. In Luidia sarsi however, the young starfish grows attached to the larval body. When it’s time to settle to the seabed the young starfish detaches from the larval body to leave the remains drifting among the plankton until, without a mouth, the larval remains run out of energy eventually, and die.

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