Sunflower Sea Star (starfish)

starfishWhile exploring a minus tide at Montana de Oro State Park in California, I discovered some wonderful sea creatures.

Unlike most of the sea stars I have seen on the beaches of California, the Sunflower sea star actually visibly moves. It’s like watching a slow fussy looking octopus of sorts : ).

Sunflower Sea Star at Low Tide in Montana de OroIncluding the length of its arms, this large and active sea-star is approximately two feet in diameter. Often a colorful pink to purple in color, the sunflower sea-star is a very unique species, starting with 6 arms as a juvenile and growing the remainder in adult form.It has between 15 to 24 flexible to limp arms and a soft delicate skin.

Now that I know about the Sunflower sea stars, it makes me want to create beautiful oil paintings of the sea creatures.

Description of the Sunflower Sea Star

The Sunflower stars I have found have been orange yellow and a dark blue-gray and orange combination. The color range for Sunflower sea-stars also includes pink and purple. Their arms number anywhere from 5 to as many as 24 arms. The ones I have spotted have had twenty usually. One had 22 arms.

Sunflower starfish grow to about 24” and are considered to be among the fastest of the species. They get about by means of some 15,000 tube feet squirming in an organized fashion under the control of an amazing water vascular system. Gill structures, which are numerous, small, and bag shaped can give them an odd somewhat fuzzy appearance under the water. Out of the water, they are fleshy and sagging, rather like an octopus.
Sunflower Sea Stars Eat sea urchins, bivalves, polychaetes, sea stars, dead fish, snails, crabs, chitons.

Sunflower Sea Star sticking to my handMoving up to four feet per minuet, Sunflower stars are the fastest moving and largest intertidal stars. Since their fragile bodies need the support of the surrounding waters, they like to hangout in the lower intertidal area. These beautiful creatures may be found in water as deep as 1400 feet.
Interesting…
Sea urchins from several feet away can detect sunflower sea stars. Seemingly immobile, urchins amazingly do their best to keep a safe distance. If you were privileged to find a Sunflower Sea Star in one of the lower intertidal pools, you would probably find that the surrounding sea urchin dents have been evacuated.

Pycnopodia helianthoides (sunflower sea-star) This large and active sea-star is approximately two feet in diameter, including the length of its arms. It has between 15 to 24 flexible to limp arms and a soft delicate skin. Often a colorful pink to purple in color, the sunflower sea-star is a very unquie species, starting with 6 arms as a juevenile and growsing the remainder in adult form.

Check out these amazing twenty legged star fish I photographed when my mother was visiting. It was 7:30 in the morning on the reef of Montana de Oro. The tide was minus 1 foot. It was a treacherously slippery trek to the deep tide pool that these wonderful sea creatures called home. I was desperately hoping to find one for my mother’s visit. About 3 months ago I happened across one for the first time. Well, We found five! There also proved to be an assortment of other sea stars.

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