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

Genus/species: Pisaster giganteus

 GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Giant sea stars have five arms covered with white, pink, or purple spines surrounded by blue tissue at the base, and range in color from red, orange, brown, or even green. The surface has brown fuzz and pedicellariae. They have a maximum arm span of about 60 cm (23.6 in). P. giganteus would seem improperly named, as the average intertidal specimen is smaller than the average P. ochraceous; however subtidal specimens grow considerably larger.


DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: They are distributed along the eastern Pacific coast from British Columbia to Baja California. They are common on rocky substrates, but also found on sand from the middle to lower intertidal zone down to 90 m (300 ft).

Giant Sea StarIMG_1040.JPG - Version 2

DIET IN THE WILD: Their typical prey are hard-shelled organisms such as mussels, snails, and barnacles by extending its stomach to fit into tiny gaps in bivalves such as mussels. However, they may occasionally eat anything slow-moving enough to be caught, such as a dying fish or shellfish, anemones, or other sea stars.

Giant Seastar IMG_8851

PREDATORS: Sea gulls and sea otters are sea star predators.

REPRODUCTION: Individual sea stars are male or female. Both sexes release gametes into the water for external fertilization. Larvae are planktonic and have bilateral symmetry. Giant sea stars live about 20 years.

REMARKS:  SEA STAR WASTING SYNDROME has become a major issue in both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. For an excellent summary check this link to the University of Santa Cruz 9-9-14.

Fitzgerald Marine Reserve.



California Academy of Sciences Tidepool Exhibit 2015

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