Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Echinodermata
Class Asteroidea
Order: Forcipulatida
Family: Asteriidae

Genus/species: Pisaster brevispinus

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS The pink sea star reaches a maximum diameter of nearly 65 cm (2 ft); however, individuals are usually smaller. Its central disc has a raised, humplike appearance. They are robust, pink in color and have aboral spines much shorter than those of other Pisaster species, thus its scientific name, which translates as “short-spined sea star.”


DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT They range from Sitka, Alaska to San Diego County, California. They can occasional be seen in the low intertidal zone, but are more commonly found in deeper water to 90 m (300 ft ) on sand and mud substrates, but sometimes on rocks and pier pilings in calm waters. They cannot tolerate prolonged exposure to air.

DIET IN THE WILD: Pink sea stars prey on live clams, snails, sand dollars, barnacles, mussels, – annelid worms, and scavenge on dead fish and squid. On soft surfaces, P. brevispinus digs into sand or mud with its arms. It also can extend its tube feet (the ones around its disk) to a length of 20 cm (8 in). When the tube feet reach a clam buried in the mud, they attach and the sea star hauls it up. On shale, it can lower its stomach into the burrow of a clam and digest the animal in place. Their large size may well be due to their access to a plentiful food supply of large organisms unavailable to potential competitors.

PREDATORS Large adults have few predators, but they may be taken by the sunflower sea star Pycnopodia helianthoides. Sea otters have been known to detach rays to consume gonads, and sea gulls occasionally feed on individuals exposed during very low tides.

REPRODUCTION They spawn in the spring. Sexes are separate and fertilization takes place externally. Larvae disperse in the water column.

Pink stars can live up to 20 years.

REMARKS: Can chemosense clams through sand. May dig down to the clam for 2 –3 days or extend tube feet to the clam a distance equal to the arm radius to 20 cm (7.8 in). Once contacted,
the clam is lifted from the substrate or the stomach may be everted to 8 cm (3.15 in) to digest the prey in place. Some sand-bottom invertebrates including the sand dollar Dendraster excentricus and the snail Olivella biplicata chemosense the presence of a pink star and attempt to avoid contact by burrowing.


California Academy of Sciences Tidepool exhibit 2015

Walla Walla Univ.…



Ron’s flickr