Starfish – Sunshine of the Sea
Most people have only seen a starfish in person at an aquarium or other marine exhibit. For the people that live on the coast, they are lucky to have tidepools. These pools of water in rocky areas house many different types of marine animals from beautiful colored starfish to sea urchins to anemones. Every time someone sees a starfish, a bright smile usually follows, as they are known as the sunshine of the sea.
When it is low tide in Oregon, it is prime time to head out to the tidepools and search for the starfish. Starfish are marine invertebrates with a mouth in the very center of their body. They can suck incredibly hard and it is about impossible to pull them off of surfaces or rocks. This sucking action is how they pry open clams and mussels for food.
In Oregon, we see starfish in beautiful coral orange and deep royal purple. The purple starfish are more common in this area with the orange popping up more randomly. In other parts of the world you can find the tan colored starfish. In Australia, there are ones that are both purple and orange on the same starfish.
A cool fact that fascinates kids is that starfish are one of the few animals that can regenerate. If they lose an arm, they can grow another! Often times a starfish will have 5 arms, but some will have six or seven. It is pretty fascinating to see the many different kinds of starfish out at the tidepools!
One of the wonders of the ocean is starfish. Sadly, they have been harvested too much in parts of the world for craft projects. When this happens there is an imbalance in that area’s ecosystem. Enjoy looking at starfish and other marine species, but leave them in their natural habitat. If out walking on the beach and you see one, let it be or help it get back to the ocean.