Mystery from the Philippines

December 8, 2006
From: Gaetan White

Dear sirs,

I try not to touch or displace anything in the sea so this creature 12 to 15 cm diameter, was in situ when the pics were taken, (beginning of slack). I went back including night dives and didn't find it again unfortunately. These were taken on Siquijor, Philippines. on 3/3/2005, in the comparatively weather-protected bay off KIWI dive resort, at "Paquit point" drop-off, vis 5-10 m between 10-15 meters depth, during slightly heavy seas. It was near the edge of the coral overhang behind which is the sand bottomed coral plateau. The area has heavy tidal currents sweeping in a constant direction. It did not have an attached stem and had maybe just arrived with the crinoid Comaster multifidus (One of many arriving with the current.)

I have asked many diver-travellers and institutes what it is, but as yet have not received a reply. I wondered if it was a velutinid [Coriocella or Chelynotus spp]

Locality: Siquijor, 10 m, Philippines, Bohol sea, 3-3-2005, see text. Length: 12 cm. Photographer: Gaetan White.

Considering its one of the few creatures I have not managed to name in my personal photo identification collection, mainly of sea, aquatic species, (Nudis. Syngna. Eels. Snakes. ETC) taken in Phil, but also Mal. Indo. Thai. Viet. Lao. (some copied from Net because of exceptional interest, or because i've seen them, but not been able to take pics, (no or drowned cameras)), I would greatly appreciate knowing what it is. As yet no institutes have replied, but i can't tell if its because its a common creature and they can't be bothered to reply, or if they don't know!

Thanks for your reply.

Gaetan White

White, G.A., 2006 (Dec 8) Mystery from the Philippines. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Gaetan,

Thank you for the very beautiful and interesting submission. I can understand why none of the institutions you contacted have replied. I am afraid that without a peek at the underside of this creature we can only speculate. At this point I am not even sure it is a mollusc. Because of the radial symmetry and the leather like appearance of the "skin", I suspect that you have some kind of seastar. Whether juvenile or adult, is uncertain.

What this animal is doing on a crinoid is also problematic. Neither molluscs nor other echinoderms are known to hang out on feather stars. We would really need to get a look at its underside to determine if it has tube feet or a mollusc like foot. Sorry we are not of much help.

Keep up the good work,
Dave Behrens

Behrens, D.W., 2006 (Dec 8). Comment on Mystery from the Philippines by Gaetan White. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

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