DRAB SIX-ARMED STAR
Leptasterias hexactis species complex
6 tapering arms. Aboral surface quite rough with a distinct central row of spines along each arm. Brown, often with darker chevrons on the arms. To 10 cm (4 in) across.
Alaskan Peninsula to northern Washington State; intertidal and shallow subtidal.
Note the distinct line of spines down the length of each arm. © Bernard Hanby
A small specimen only 4 cm (1.6 in ) across from Frank Island on the west coast of Vancouver island. © Bernard Hanby
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Eats various small bivalves, sea cucumbers, barnacles, gastropods and chitons. The PYGMY ROCK CRAB Cancer oregonensis breaks off pieces of this star's arms and eats them. Aggregates in January to breed. Males discharge sperm into the water and the females hold the fertilized eggs under their arched bodies, brooding them for three months before the juvenile stars leave. Leptasterias is a complex genus with many confusing, closely-related species. Taxonomists are still trying to sort out all the different entities.