Posted by Greg on November 30, 2011
"Red-knobed Starfish" Photo by Adrian Pingstone (Wikimedia Commons)
Starfish, as sea stars were previously known, come in more varieties than I once thought. For one, they sometimes have more or fewer legs than the five we typically think of, and for another, there are thousands of species of this beautiful sea creature.
According to National Geographic, “marine scientists have undertaken the difficult task of replacing the beloved starfish’s common name with sea star because, well, the starfish is not a fish. It’s an echinoderm, closely related to sea urchins and sand dollars. There are some 2,000 species of sea star living in all the world’s oceans, from tropical habitats to the cold seafloor. The five-arm varieties are the most common, hence their name, but species with 10, 20, and even 40 arms exist.” Some species have only four arms.
Giant sea star (sand star). Photo by NOAA (Wikimedia Commons)
Eleven Armed sea star. Photo by de.Benutzer:Hase (Wikimedia Commons)
Sea Stars come in many different, often brilliant colors. They use color to camouflage themselves for protection or to scare off potential predators. Another interesting fact from National Geographic is that “beyond their distinctive shape, sea stars are famous for their ability to regenerate limbs, and in some cases, entire bodies. They accomplish this by housing most or all of their vital organs in their arms. Some require the central body to be intact to regenerate, but a few species can grow an entirely new sea star just from a portion of a severed limb.”
Sea Stars are frequently found in tide pools. Please follow “Tide Pool Etiquette” while studying them in their element. *You might also be interested in our post on Morro Bay tidepooling*
Happy Sea Star searching!
Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Tide Pools | Tagged: beachcombing, echinoderm, sea stars, starfish, starfish variety, tide pool animals, tide pool marine life | 3 Comments »
Posted by Jody on August 31, 2011
I just love going back to Morro Bay, California. Nestled on the Pacific Ocean about half way between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Morro Bay is one of the most interesting coastal environments you’ll find anywhere.
Sea Star, Morro Bay, California (Photo by Jody Diehl)
Exploring the tide pools near “El Morro” (aka: Morro Rock) is always great fun. Keep your eyes open! You’ll have to look under and around rocks to find the beautifully colored sea stars (starfish) and sea anemones. Smaller crabs will scurry into the rocky breakwater, waving and drumming their pincers to warn you off. It’s a really cool sound. (Don’t worry about embarrassing them, though. They’ll never realize you’re laughing at their bravado!) The larger crabs won’t pay you any mind at all. Once we came across a young sea lion resting on the sand. You never know what you’ll find here.
The Crab Who Didn’t Care, Morro Bay, California (Photo by Jody Diehl)
Heading out to explore the tide pools in almost any weather is well worth your time and energy. You’ll be glad you did! On your way back toward town, look to the bay side water for the otter entertainment.
If bird watching is your thing, the Morro Bay area is home to over 250 species of birds, including peregrine falcons; a fact that this quaint fishing village celebrates each year with the Winter Bird Festival weekend.
Beach and coastal activities are numerous in Morro Bay. Check out the beach to the north of Morro Rock, and you’ll inevitably find surfers, even if they’re just hanging out waiting for the next set of waves. This beach is also where you’ll find a bounty of sand dollars (be careful not to collect the live ones). If you look to the south of Morro Rock to the placid waters of the protected bay, you’ll see kayaks gliding amongst the moored sail boats.
Kayak in Morro Bay, California (©Jody Diehl)
It always seems to be a bit misty when we’re in Morro Bay, California. Be sure to bring rain gear and wear your beach-trekkers for climbing over the uneven rocks around the tide pools.
Don’t know how to tell if a sand dollar is alive? Check out “Beachcombing? Shelling Regulations Abound. Know Before You Go!“
Let us know about your favorite beach! And please share us with your friends on Facebook! -J-
Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Beach Birding, Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Northern California Beaches, Sea Lions and Seals, Surfing Beach, Tide Pools | Tagged: beach, beachcombing, California sand dollar beach, California surfing beach, collecting sand dollars, Morro Bay California beachcombing, Morro Bay California birding, Morro Bay California tide pools, otters, sea stars, starfish | Leave a Comment »