Giant Spined Sea Star
- Large five-pointed sea star
- Red, brown, tan or purple coloring
- Light blue circles around base of each white spine
- 14-19 inches in diameter
- British Columbia to southern California
- Low and subtidal regions
- Mostly in protected coastal areas
- Pier pilings, sand, rocks
- Barnacles, snails, mussels, limpets, ornate tubeworms, California piddock bivalve
- Sheep crab, sea gulls, sea otters
- They can detach a limb to escape a predator and can regrow that limb later. If they are cut in half, they can grow into two sea stars!!
- Sea stars are considered keystone species, because if they are removed from an ecosystem, the entire ecosystem can end up out of balance, with certain species taking over and out-dominating other species.
- The giant sea star can be trained to associate a light stimulus with food!
Sources: Wildcoast; Encyclopedia of Life; biology.fullerton.edu; UC Irvine Biology
Photo: David R. Andrew