Detail from "Rain Dance," an original quilt by Sherrie Spangler

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Sea stars

Naturalist holding an ochre sea star.
It's time to hit the beaches again with Harbor WildWatch, the group I volunteer with that teaches the public cool stuff about our local sea creatures. We had our training last weekend and I got a lot of pictures of sea stars, one of my favorite inhabitants of the Puget Sound. These ochre and mottled sea stars were about a foot across, and there were a lot of them draped over rocks or snuggled in sea weed waiting for the tide to come back in.

Underside of a mottled sea star, showing its tube feet.
Sea stars use their tube feet to slowly move over the bottom of the sea floor in search of food. They eat mussels, clams and other shellfish and they use their suctioning tube feet to grip their prey.

Penrose Point State Park near Lakebay, WA
In case you're wondering what type of environment these creatures live in, here are the two state parks, Penrose Point and Manchester, where I took these photos. They're on the Puget Sound near Gig Harbor. We went out during low tide. During high tide the sea stars are underwater and you're not as likely to find them.

Manchester State Park near Pt. Orchard, WA.
Note the sea star in foreground.

Can you see the white circle off center on each of these two stars (above and below)? That's the madreporite, where water enters and then circulates throughout the arms.

An ochre sea star.
People often call them "star fish," but they're not fish. I love the way they drape and arrange themselves on the beach -- almost looks like they're dancing.

A little blood star that was almost hidden under rocks.
A leather star, which feels leathery.

A mottled sea star -- more slender than the ochres.

Reflection of one of our naturalists over a mottled star.

An ochre star snuggles in until the tide comes returns.

 Have a colorful day


Diane said...

Wow! Thanks for sharing the terrific pictures. The colors are fabulous.

Marti said...

Sherri, these pictures are Fabulous! (repeating Diane, but really that is the word that came to mind). ...and I did not know they were called sea stars. :)

Sheila Schultz Mordue said...

Sherrie your sea star photos are fabulous!! Thanks for volunteering with HWW, you do such a great job.

The Idaho Beauty said...

Ok, did you bead that ochre? ;-) Just a gorgeous one and so big!

blackbird said...

Amassing photos
Thank you for sharing

McIrish Annie said...

Wow what great pics! I see a quilt there don't you??

norma said...

I never knew that they were so big or colorful. Great picture!

Judy Ferguson said...

I never knew there were so many different types of starfish. But then, I live in the middle of the country and never see such things around here. They are really beautiful.