A group of bat starfish have devoured the carcass of a sea lion on the seabed. The incredible shot was captured by photographer David Slater, with whom he won the Big Picture Competition award organized by the California Academy of Sciences.
The photo was captured on the bottom of Monterey Bay. The deceased sea lion is supposed to be a California sea lion or a Steller sea lion.
Some information on starfish
Due to the configuration of the vascular system, starfish and other echinoderms are unable to filter the toxins and pollutants residing in the water, making them particularly vulnerable to contamination of the marine environment.
Oil pollution, as in the case of the Deepwater Horizon, may have had a severe impact on echinoderm populations in the disaster-stricken areas. The starfish spends most of its day in search of food. It can swallow small prey whole and some can tip the stomach out of the mouth, adhere to even large animals and digest them externally.
Its favorite prey are small crustaceans and molluscs, such as mussels and also sea urchins. With its strong legs, the starfish manages to open the shell of the most resistant shells and feed on them. It has no enemies among predators but is a victim of parasites.
The starfish is one of the most voracious inhabitants of the seabed. The starfish lacks a centralized brain, has a complex nervous system with a nerve ring around the mouth, and a radial nerve that runs along the ambulatory region of each arm, parallel to the radial canal.
The peripheral nervous system consists of two nerve networks: a sensory system in the epidermis and a motor system in the lining of the coelomic cavity, connected by neurons that pass through the dermis. Ring nerves and radial nerves have sensory and motor components and coordinate balance and directional systems.
The sensory component receives input from the sensory organs while the motor nerves control the musculature of the ambulacral pedicels. The starfish does not have the ability to plan its actions. If one arm detects an attractive odor, it becomes dominant and temporarily overtakes the other arms to initiate movement towards prey.
The operation of this mechanism is not fully understood. Starfish are present in all the seas of the world and in the tropical ones they are the most conspicuous.