species: Comaster nobilis in Lizard Island Field Guide (Lizard Island Field Guide)
Comaster nobilis

©Anne Hoggett: Comaster nobilis in typical living position at the base of the reef slope at Pidgin Point, Lizard Island.

©Lyle Vail and Anne Hoggett: Comaster nobilis in an off-reef habitat.

©Lyle Vail and Anne Hoggett: Underside of Comaster nobilis. Note virtual absence of cirri and relatively smooth, solid central area.
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Echinodermata
Class Crinoidea
Order Comatulida
Family Comatulidae
Genus Comaster
Species Comaster nobilis



Distinguishing features

Comatulids are distinguised from all other featherstar families by having terminal segments of the oral pinnules modified to form a comb. Comatulids a also have a distinctive "feel" due to well developed hooks on most pinnules that cause them to cling like velcro.

Comaster nobilis lives fully exposed with its numerous arms held in a bush-like posture. There are usually no cirri but some animals have a few. The central area of the underside is very solid and smooth.

The most common colour is white on the under surface near the centre, becoming yellow/brown in the distal half. Pinnules are usually speckled with a combination of white and yellow, sometimes with some black and green.

The distinctive colour pattern and the smooth undersurface help distinguish this species from Comaster audax, which can be found in the same habitat.


  • Size data has not been obtained.

Depth range

  • Depth range data is not yet available.



©Atlas of Living Australia: Australian distribution

Distribution and habitat preferences

It perches on both soft and hard substrates, including hard and soft corals, algae and rubble.

Comaster nobilis is found mostly in water deeper than 10 m, anywhere around the perimeter of the island group. Messing (2006) records Comaster nobilis as part of an unusual soft-bottom fauna in 12 to 17 m depth off Osprey Island.

Web resources


References that assist with identification

  • Clark, A.M. and F.W.E. Rowe (1971). Monograph of shallow-water Indo-west Pacific echinoderms British Museum (Natural History), London.
  • Rowe, F.W.E., A.K. Hoggett, R.A. Birtles and L.L. Vail (1986). Revision of some comasterid general from Australia (Echinodermata: Crinoidea), with descriptions of two new genera and nine new species, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 86: 197-277. LIRS catalog number 198.

Other references

  • Messing, C.G., D.L. Meyer, U.E. Siebeck, L.S. Jermiin, D.I. Vaney and G.W. Rouse (2006). A modern soft-bottom, shallow-water crinoid fauna (Echinodermata) from the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, Coral Reefs, 25: 164-168. LIRS catalog number 956.
  • View all references