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What is this?

June 7, 2010

Quick question that has nothing to do with birds, though there were about 5 bald eagles flying overhead when I pondered this question. Do any of you versatile readers have any idea what this fabulous sea creature is called? The photo (by yours truly) comes from Tribune Bay on Hornby Island, BC.

Is it a super hyper starfish on steroids? (I seem to know even less about marine biology than about birds.) In any event, I was mesmerized. And, it was the only day of sunshine we got on our 8 day trip, so I was doubly awestruck.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. June 7, 2010 8:00 pm

    Is it a jellyfish? There are some that colour up Indian Arm.

  2. June 7, 2010 8:08 pm

    Totally no. A jelly fish is a jelly fish (it looks gelatinous; i’ll post a picture if you like). This was WAY different.

  3. Fireweed permalink
    June 7, 2010 11:00 pm

    I’ve always heard them referred to as sea stars, but they are also called sunflower starfish. They are voracious predators of shellfish. One creepy tidbit is that if they are caught or attacked, or grasped onto by another creature, they can shed one or more arms to escape, then grow their arms back! Sometimes they are purple. So you’re right, a starfish on steroids is exactly what it is.

  4. Eric Wolff permalink
    June 8, 2010 11:12 am

    I asked my local expert (i.e. my wife who is a biological oceanographer), she confirms that it’s a sunflower starfish (Pycnopodia). Mostly I wanted to post this awesome video, which has a sunflower star on a rampage somewhere in the middle. NSFW, for anyone who’s at work, but hilarious anywhere.

  5. Eric Wolff permalink
    June 8, 2010 11:12 am

    Oops, forgot to link the video:

  6. February 7, 2013 7:44 pm

    that is a sunflower starfish

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