Research project: Targeted collecting, checklist and guide to starfish (Echinodermata: Asteroidea) of the Sydney region


Start date:

Museum investigators


Starfish (Echinodermata: Asteroidea) are a distinctive group of invertebrates of great interest to the general public. They are often encountered intertidally and by divers. They are also ecologically and commercially significant, as evidenced by the examples of the impact of the Crown-of-Thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) on the Great Barrier Reef, and the introduction of the Northern Pacific Seastar (Asterias amurensis).

The museum registration database records 31 starfish species from the Sydney region (defined here as between Bundeena and Gosford) to 30m depth. Of these, 13 species are known from less than 10 records. Records for other species are also often limited geographically or temporally. Most identification guides to starfish cover a wider geographic area than the Sydney region and cannot be easily used to identify the local fauna.

Regular field work to sample starfish using SCUBA is being conducted. These collections will be supplemented by trawl sampling. New records of starfish encountered are being documented, and live and preserved material photographed.

The aims of project are:

  • To examine and, if possible, improve representation of starfish (Echinodermata: Asteroidea) specimens from the Sydney region in the museum collection
  • To provide tools (e.g. checklist, poster and key) to aid in identifying starfish of the Sydney region that can be delivered through the internet

Dr Stephen Keable , Collection Manager, Marine Invertebrates
Helen Stoddart , Scientific Officer
Roger Springthorpe , Technical Officer
Anna Murray , Technical Officer, Scientific
Kate Attwood , Technical Officer
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