Sthenaster emmae is a bit of an oddball. The starfish species was first described in 2010 based on three museum specimens, two dried and one preserved in ethanol. It's one thing to look at a dead sea star, and another to finally behold it alive and snacking in its natural habitat.
The science team on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ship Okeanos Explorer got a thrill when they spotted sthenaster emmae in the Atlantic Ocean.
"This was the FIRST time it's been seen alive!" enthused Smithsonian starfish expert Chris Mah in a NOAA blog post on Thursday.
The video footage will help biologists learn more about the sea star.
"This species was hypothesized to be a coral predator when I described it, based on fragments found in its gut, but now we have solid evidence of this species feeding on a primnoid octocora," said Mah. This pretty much confirms the star's soft-coral-munching predilections.