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Commonly Asked Questions

Appears in Georgia Aquarium's:
  • California Kelp Forest Habitat (Cold Water Quest)
  • Cold Water Touch Pool (Cold Water Quest)
  • Rocky Reefs (Cold Water Quest)

Range / Habitat

  • Occurs along the Pacific Coast of North America from Alaska to southern California.
  • Found in subtidal areas with mud or sand bottom to about 360 feet (110 m) depth.
  • Appears more frequently in bays than in open coast, often seen on floats and pilings. 

Physical Characteristics

  • Has five rays, or arms, that are thickest near the central disk.
  • Top surface is composed of tiny spines less than 0.75 inch (2 cm) in length.
  • Can reach a diameter of 20-28 inches (51-71 cm) or in excess of 24 inches (61 cm).
  • Arms may be up to 3 inches (7.6 cm) thick.
  • Typically pink to lavender in color with a soft and smooth surface texture. 

Diet / Feeding

  • Diet consists of sand dollars, polychaetes, mussels, clams and other bivalve mollusks. 
  • To reach buried bivalves it can extend tube feet next to its mouth about an inch (several centimeters) into the sediment to pull its prey to the surface. 
  • Also extends its stomach over prey to digest it.
  • Opportunistic scavenger feeding on dead fish and other animals.

Reproduction / Growth

  • Spawning occurs in spring and summer.

Conservation Status

  • “Not Evaluated” on the IUCN Red List.

Additional Information

  • One of the largest known species of sea star.
  • Also called a “short-spined” and “giant pink star.”
  • As with many sea stars, it dries out, or desiccates, rapidly on exposure to air.
  • May perform limb regeneration if center disc is still intact.

Sources

www.nwmarinelife.com
www.rosario.wwc.edu/inverts/Echinodermata
www.zipcodezoo.com

Intertidal Invertebrates of California. Morris, R. H.,  Abbott, D. P., and Haderlie, E. C., pg. 127.