Leather Star
Dermasterias imbricata

Physical Description

  • Five wide arms surrounding a large, high disc
  • Blue-gray coloration, with red and orange mottling
  • Smooth and slippery texture, covered in slime, feels like wet leather
  • Up to 10 inches diameter

Range

  • Prince William Sound, Alaska to northern Baja California, Mexico

Habitat

  • Rocky shores and tidepools
  • In clean harbors on pilings and sea walls
  • From 0 to 300 feet depth

Diet

  • Sea anemones, California sea cucumber, purple sea urchin, sponges, hydroids, sea pens, sea vase tunicates, bryozoans, and other invertebrates

Predators

  • Morning sun stars eat them
  • Slimy texture detracts many predators
  • The leather star also exudes a garlic-like smell that repels predators! 

Interesting Facts

  • Unlike many other sea stars, leather stars swallow their prey whole and digest it internally.
  • Unlike most other animals, sea stars do not have blood but instead use sea water to pump oxygen around their bodies

Sources: Oregon Coast Aquarium; Tennessee Aquarium; seastarsofthepacificnorthwest.info; animals.net

Photo: Herb Gruenhagen

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