Saturday, January 30, 2010

"Star"ring Role in the Theater of the Sea



Northern Sea Star
  (Asterias vulgaris)   



A familiar site for me during my forays along the shores of Cape Breton Island,the Northern Sea Star, also called the Purple Sea Star, takes center stage.  I know, it isn't purple, but usually it is!  It's color depends largely on what it has been feasting upon, and it can range in shades from pink to red to orange. 

As carnivores,  their favorite food of choice includes mussels and oysters.  The majority of sea stars have the most remarkable ability to consume prey - from outside their bodies!  They use tiny, suction-cupped tube feet to pry open clams or oysters. Their stomach then emerges from their mouth and oozes inside the shell. 
They wrap this stomach around the prey to digest it, and finally withraw the stomach back into their own body.

There are approximately 1600 different species of Sea Stars world wide.  Once called "starfish", scientists have changed the name to Sea Star because they obviously are not fish!  They are actually echinoderms and are cousins to the sand dollars and and sea urchins!  Their spiny outer layer protects them from prey, and they are famous for being able to regenerate a missing limb.  Not all Sea Stars have 5 limbs.  Some have up to 20, even 40!

Purely marine animals, they use sea water instead of blood to pump nutrients throughout their bodies. And, they don't have a brain!   Amazing that they can do all the things they do without a brain. 
Those of us with brains should take a lesson!!



11 comments:

Denise said...

That is an amazing little critter and thank you for all this great information. So bizarre and yet so beautiful, and fascinating.

Melissa Miller said...

Hello Karen,
Thank you very much for your sweet visit to my blog and for entering my Spring giveaway! I really appreciate it. You are always welcome to visit me anytime.

Your blog and photos are gorgeous! I will be back again.

~Blessings, ~Melissa :)

eileeninmd said...

I love your blog and post. this critter is so cute! Great photo!

Helena said...

Great photo and info. I had no idea that scientists had changed their name. :)

Carletta said...

Love the color of the rock he's on - great background!
I didn't know to call it a Sea Star either. You've taught me something today.

Thanks for your visit.

Lisa said...

What a fantastic shot!!

Quilt Works said...

What a great capture! I like that it is not the typical star shape - of a star with personality :-)

Crafty Green Poet said...

what a lovely photo of such a lovely creature! I also really like your spider photos a couple of posts back...

Johnny Nutcase said...

i love sea stars! such cool organisms! nice photo and good info!

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

KS: That is a really neat critter and one I never see.

Natural Moments said...

Ah, yes...its good yoga to feel without thinking; to experience life directly without being side tracked by or low-jacked by the brain. We can certainly learn from the stars.

Enjoyed your blog.