It’s not unusual to see Jellyfish washed up on the beach in Thailand, usually you wouldn’t look twice, but on this occasion I thought I had a scoop “Thai Jellyfish possessed by Aliens”.
Of course, after some research I discovered that these alien looking creatures which appeared to be eating the Jellyfish are actually called Brittle Starfish. And of course, despite appearances these little starfish were not eating the jellyfish at all, they were merely using it as a mobile home. Not a great deal is known as to why they live on the jellyfish, or even how they get there.
It is believed the Brittle Starfish lives on the Jellyfish for protection from its predators and to feed on the abundance of plankton as the jellyfish roams the ocean.
I have seen photos of Brittle Stars living on, and inside the Jellyfish canopy since making this discovery, but only 1 or 2 at a time. Looking at these photos which I took on the beach at Pranburi, south Thailand, it looks like there could be as many as 30 or 40 on, around, and inside this Jellyfish’s canopy.
Brittle Stars can live for 5 years and some species can reach 60 centimeters in length. They are called Brittle because their limbs easily break off, this is a defense mechanism to help them escape their predators, the limb quickly grows back. They feed mainly on plankton and small marine creatures. But I wonder, just how do they manage to hitch a ride on the jellyfish ?.