Free the Ocean Blog

The Weird & Wonderful Sea Lilies and Sea Feathers

As spring flowers bloom and brighten the landscape, a different kind of bloom unfolds beneath the waves: the peculiar and captivating crinoids. Much like the vibrant blossoms above, these sea creatures, adorned with feathery arms and anchored by handy-dandy stalks, offer a fascinating glimpse into the ocean’s own garden of wonders. Their otherworldly beauty and sci-fi-like allure bring a touch of spring’s magic to the depths of the sea.

Despite their strange appearance, crinoids are actually related to more familiar creatures like sea stars and sea urchins. They both can alter between rigid and flaccid states, and both have an interior system of canals that end in tube feet. But the big differentiator is the in how they attach to the seafloor.

Take the beautiful sea lily as an example. They have stalks that they use to fasten themselves to the seafloor. And then there are the feather stars who lose their stalks as they mature. This allows them to swim and float using a set of small legs called cirri.

But no matter how they attach themselves, crinoids are covered in tiny tube feet along their frilly arms that they use to capture suspended particles of plankton and other treats from the water.

The beauty of crinoids is not just in their functional features, but in their appearance as well. With their feathery arms and delicate colors, they are like flowers come to life in the sea. And while they are a relatively unfamiliar and strange species, they have a long history dating back over 400 million years ago.

Photo Credit: Jung Hsuan

If life’s everyday scenery starts to feel a bit too ordinary, remember that beneath the ocean’s surface lies a magical realm waiting to be explored, just like the vibrant blooms of spring. The fascinating crinoids are just one example of the weird and wonderful creatures that make up the ocean’s own garden, offering a glimpse into the many marvels awaiting those who venture beneath the waves.

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