Let’s start with just some general facts about Sea Stars (Starfish).
Scientific Name: Asteroidea
Average Life Span: Up to 35 years in the wild
Size 4.7 to 9.4 inches
Weight: Up to 11 lbs.
According to a National Geographic article, Marine Scientists are trying to get the name “Starfish” changed to “Sea Star”. Why? Simply because it is not a fish! It is an Echinoderm and related to the Sea Urchins and Sand Dollars. Who knew, right?
Another interesting fact is that there are about 2,000 species of Sea Stars! You can find them in the warm Caribbean Seas to Cold water locations. The most popular and well-known species has 5 arms (star), however some can have up to 40 arms!
These arms can be drop off to get away from a predator and can grow back within a year. The Sea Stars arms, have most of their vital organs in them. So an arm can grow into a Sea Star.
Some interesting facts about Sea Stars are;
Sea Stars do not have blood. They actually have filter seawater.
Their eyes are on the tip of each arm. They cannot see color. The eye looks like a red spot. (hmmm, does that mean they have red eye syndrome? I know…bad joke!)
Brains? Nope. Nada. No one home.
Nervous System: Is spread throughout their arms.
Their bodies are bony and calcified skin and many wear striking colors to help them camouflage or scare off potential attackers.
YOU! US! HUMANS! Are their worst predators in my humble opinion.
I live on a Tropical Island and it just saddens me watching the tourist taking them out of the water for pictures. Our tour guides are just as guilty and should know better. The cruise ship industry should also be more responsible in educating their guests.
Did you know that they breathe by the little tubes that are all over their bodies? They have to be completely submerged to breathe. So you are suffocating them when you remove them from the water for that photo op.
People should avoid taking Sea Stars out of the water due to the irreversible damage it poses to their tissue. (Even for a few seconds out of water!). And if you have sunscreen on your hands, it is toxic to them.
So PLEASE, admire them from a far and respect their beauty as with the reef to keep the undersea world beautiful.
Okay, enough of the lecture.
Some other interesting information regarding Sea Stars is that they are predators. Their cute looks are deceiving! They can pretty much eat what they want as long as they can catch it. Using tiny suction-cupped tube feet, they pry open clams, osyters, etc and their stomach emerges from their mouth and oozes inside the shell. The stomach then envelopes the prey to digest it. When done, it withdraws back into their body. Sounds like something from a scary sci-fi movie! Gross and interesting at the same time.
This also makes them very important in helping to balance the marine biodiversity. They are key in keeping the balance of the sea. Who would have thought that of these docile Stars?
So as fascinating as Sea Stars are, please respect them. Admire them in their habitat and do not touch. So that our future generations can enjoy them as much as we do.