- Five-armed seastar, with thin arms and small radial disc
- Red and gray mottled coloration
- The normal number of limbs is five, but can have anywhere from one to nine
- Arms are often not symmetrical
- Maximum size 4 inches
- Southern California to Peru
- Ecuador (Galapagos Islands)
- May also be present in Hawaii
- Rocky intertidal
- Depth of 0 to 500 feet
- Sea stars eat mollusks and detritus
- Fragile sea stars are considered rather inedible, although sea stars can be eaten by seabirds, fish, crabs, otters, and even other sea stars!
- The fragile star is known to undergo autotomy, or self-amputation, where one arm detaches itself from the disc. That arm then regrows a new disc and new arms, a process that can take six months or more to complete. This is often why fragile stars look asymmetrical – they are in the process of regrowing their bodies!
Sources: darwinfoundation.org; Reef Life Survey; Between Pacific Tides: Fifth Edition; National Aquarium; Benthic Invertebrates of Four Southern California Marine Habitats
Photo: Matthew Meier