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Common Sea Star

Asterias forbesi

The common sea star is a spiny-skinned echinoderm with five pointed arms. (Bill Frank/www.jaxshells.org)
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The common sea star is a spiny-skinned echinoderm with five pointed arms. (Bill Frank/www.jaxshells.org)

The common sea star is a spiny-skinned echinoderm with five pointed arms. It lives mainly on rocks, jetties and pilings in the shallow, salty waters of the lower Chesapeake Bay.

Appearance:

  • Five pointed arms
  • Varies in color from yellowish-orange to deep purple
  • Small, pale spines that give the sea star a rough appearance
  • Bright red or orange “eye” spot in the center of the body
  • Hundreds of tiny tube feet on the pale underside

  • Grows to about 5 inches

Habitat:

  • Common in shallow, rocky areas and near jetties and pilings
  • Also found in deeper waters over sandy or stony bottoms
  • Uses its tiny tube feet to move

Range:

  • Found in the salty waters of the lower Chesapeake Bay

Feeding:

  • Eats snails, clams, oysters, mussels and barnacles
  • Feeds by latching its tube feet onto its prey’s shells, then prying the shells open just enough for the sea star to reach its stomach inside

Predators:

  • Has few predators due to its tough, spiny skin

Reproduction and Life Cycle:

  • Spawns by releasing eggs and sperm into the water, where the eggs are fertilized
  • Females can release up to 2.5 million eggs
  • Fertilized eggs develop into free-swimming larvae
  • After about three weeks, the larvae settle and morph into adults

Other Facts:

  • More commonly referred to as starfish
  • Related to sea cucumbers. Both are echinoderms, which means “spiny-skinned.” All echinoderms have five-part radial symmetry.
  • An active sea star can travel one mile in about a week
  • If a sea star loses an arm, it can quickly grow a new one. Sometimes it overcompensates and grows an extra arm or two. This is why sea stars with six or more arms are occasionally found.

Sources and Additional Information:




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