This purple sea (Pisaster ochraceus) star can be found in a variety of colours! Further south in Washington and Oregon the ochre variety is more prevalent, and up here on Vancouver Island purple is far more common.
This little fella looks like Tarzan swinging on a rope! It's very common to find these sea stars on dock pilings and rocky shores where they hunt for mussels, barnacles, limpets and snails. On their underside they have thousands of tiny tube feet which they control with their hydro-vasuclar system (which works just like the hydraulic systems on machines!)They have a yellow spot on the top and centre called the madroporite which is the organ they use to control this system.
With a tight grip they can open a muscle, climb on top of it and then evert (eject) their stomachs to digest their food outside of their bodies! Not the most polite of dinner guests!
Recently they have been subject to a massive die-off event due to Sea Star Wasting Syndrome which is causing them to literally melt into goo!
Read more about it on our site here: Sea Star Wasting Syndrome
Photo: Andrew Murgatroyd
Welcome to the 12 days of fish-mas gallery!
At Christmas time in 2013 I made this gallery while working at the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre!