4-5-12 Giant Sea Star from Ron’s Temperate Marine series
Phylum Echinodermata, Class Asteroidea, Order Forcipulatida,
Family Asteriidae,
Pisaster gianteus,
DISTRIBUTION: Eastern Pacific coast from British Columbia to Baja California.
HABITAT: Rocky but also sandy substrates from middle to lower intertidal zone down to 300 ft or 90 m.
APPEARANCE: Five arms. Can be colored red, orange, brown, or green. Evenly spaced blunt white stubby spines surrounded by blue plaques. Maximum arm span about 24 in or 60 cm.
DIET: Typical prey are hard-shelled organisms such as mussels, snails, and barnacles. May occasionally eat anything slow-moving enough to be caught, such as dying fish or shellfish, anenomes, or other sea stars.
REPRODUCTION and DEVELOPMENT: Individual sea stars are male or female. Broadcast spawners, both sexes release gametes into the water for external fertilization. Larvae are planktonic and have bilateral symmetry.
MORTALITY/LONGEVITY: Sea gulls and sea otters are sea star predators. Giant sea stars live about 20 years.
TIDEPOOL CC15 4-4-12
Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157608501343477/