Sunday 4 August 2019

Asterodiscides fourmanoiri: A Starfish known only from southern Madagascar reported off the coast of Pakistan.

Starfish (Asteroidea) are benthic marine Echinoderms found across the globe. They have a simple bodyplan, with a central disk that has the mouth on the underside, surrounded by (usually) five arms, each with a double row of tube feet underneath. The upper surface of the Starfish is covered by an articulated armoured exoskeleton made up of thousands of small calcite plates. The animal moves by means of a water vascular system, which enables it to inflate and deflate the tube feet as required. There are currently around 1900 described species of living Starfish, grouped into 370 genera. The genus Amphiaster contains eighteen species of deepwater Starfish found in the Indian and western Pacific oceans, including Asterodiscides fourmanoiri, which is known only from waters off the Sainte Luce Reserve in southeast Madagascar.

In a paper published in  the Summer 2019 edition of Iranian Journal of Fisheries Sciences, Mohammad Reza Mirzaei, Arezoo Vahabnezhad and Fereidoon Owfi of the Iranian Fisheries Science Research Institute, record the presence of Asterodiscides fourmanoiri on the southern coast of Pakistan.

Mirzaei et al. report discovering Asterodiscides fourmanoiri living at a depth of between 83 and 85 m on a sand and rock seafloor trawl near Gwadar Bay in the northern Oman Sea, based upon a single specimen recovered from a sample trawl by the Research Vessel Ferdows in October 2016. This represents a significant extension of the known range of the species, making it likely that it is found elsewhere in the waters of the Indian Ocean.

Specimen of Asterodiscides fourmanoiri recovered from the coast of Pakistan in 2016. Mizaeri et al. (2019).

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