Common name: Beaded sea star

Scientific name: Astropecten articulates

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Echinodermata

Class: Asteroidea

Order: Paxillosida

Family: Astropectnidae

Genus: Astropecten

Species: A. articulates

 

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The Beaded Sea Star is a small, but intriguing animal. This invertebrate has unique characteristics ranging from size to color. Although sea stars are found in numerous locations in the world’s oceans this sea star is found mainly in three locations. Beaded Sea Stars are small in size and population, but their appetite is enormous. These animals have many enemies in the vast ocean they call home. These Beaded Sea Stars are fascinating animals.

 

The Beaded Sea Star has some impressive characteristics for an ocean dweller. It is six inches long so it is considered a small animal. The coloration of the star varies from light brown to yellowish brown, often purple or blue. The Beaded Sea Star has five triangular shaped arms, rays, which are attached to the center of the body where it forms a central disc. This creature has no ears, nose, or eyes, but it has a mouth about the length of a quarter inch. The Beaded Sea Star has adapted to survive by using its stomach to catch its prey. The under part of the star’s body has tube feet with suction cups, which are used to get oxygen. These characteristics enable this creature to adapt and survive in the gigantic ocean.

 

The Atlantic Ocean from New Jersey through the Gulf of Mexico to Northern Brazil is the primary locations where this sea animal can be found. This sea star lives in different habitats, such as, low tide lines near the shore, and out in the deep ocean on rocky or sandy bottoms. They live well in that ecosystem because their food supply is plenty, and they find safety in the sand and mud where they burry themselves for protection. It is amazing how these little critters adapt to survive in such a huge habitat.

 

The population and conservation status of the Beaded Sea Star is very low. Even worse is that the population of this species is shrinking. The cause of the shrinking is due to pollution in the water and over harvesting of the sea star’s food. If we don’t stop the pollution and over-harvesting of shellfish, these sea stars may become extinct. One of the things that is incredible about the Beaded Sea Star is its diet and feeding habits.

 

This animal’s role in the food web is a carnivore. This animal competes for food by wrapping itself around its prey, using its suction cups to remove the prey’s shell, and wraps its stomach around the prey. This sea star eats mostly shelled creatures like clams and mussels and sometimes eats other relatives. This animal is one of the reasons why we have less and less shelled creatures to eat. The Beaded Sea Star also has a lot of predators. These predators are gulls, ravens, parasites, different types of fish, and other birds. Although it has a lot of predators it is protected by its rough spiny armored skin. It also evades it enemies by detaching its arms or legs and later regenerates these body parts. This is another remarkable characteristic of this very small animal.

 

Clearly, there are many interesting facts about the Beaded Sea Star. It was amazing to learn how it devours its prey with its stomach, and how it can reproduce its limbs after being attacked by it predators. As humans we breathe oxygen through our mouth and nose, it was funny to learn that the beautiful Beaded Sea Star takes in oxygen through its tube feet. It was remarkable to discover how a sea star can do a lot of stuff that I would never have thought possible

 

Author: Wheaton L

Published: 02/2008

 

Sources:

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/invertabrates/starfish.html?nav=FEATURES http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astropecten http://jrscience.wcp.muohio.edu/fieldcourses04/PapersMarineEcologyArticles/Starfish.Fin The New Book of Knowledge number: 17 letter: S http://www.gsmfc.org/seamap/picture_guide/Echinoderms/astropecten.pdf http://www.ncaquariums.com/askaquarium/seastars.htm http://jrscience.wcp.muohio.edu/fieldcourses04/PapersMarineEcologyArticles/StarfishFinal.html

 

Photo Credit: http://www.dnr.sc.gov/marine/sertc/images/photo%20gallery/Astropecten%20ariculatus.jpg