ORANGE SUN STAR
Solaster sp. A (undescribed species)
8 to 10 long, gracefully tapering arms. Aboral surface relatively smooth with densely-packed, tiny spinelets. Usually solid orange in various shades. To 37 cm (14.5 in) across. Looks much like the morning sun star, but usually has fewer, more tapered arms. The NORTHERN SUN STAR is also similar, but it has shorter arms compared to the ORANGE SUN STAR. This star had been identified as Solaster paxillatus (which is found in the NW Pacific) in past references, but recent examination of specimens from Alaska and Knight Inlet, BC revealed that it is a distinct, undescribed species (Roger Clark, pers. comm.).
Bering Sea to southern California; 11 to 3,740 m (36 to 12,270 ft).
A large specimen from the Gordon Islands, BC. The puffy appearance is likely due to successful feeding.
A closer view shows the aboral surface covered with small plates topped with numerous tiny spinelets.
A small, slender specimen from Hodgson Island, BC.
The red eye-spot can be seen at the tip of this arm.
A pale specimen from Sechelt Inlet, BC.
The oral side. Note the distinctive mouth plates, which are large and shovel-like.
The ORANGE SUN STAR may well be a sea star hunter, but here a MORNING SUN STAR (at right) has successfully attacked one in Sechelt Inlet.
A pale specimen nearly 30 cm (12 in) across at a depth 20 m (65 ft) at the Knight Inlet sill, BC.
A specimen 30 cm (12 in) across at a depth of 18 m (60 ft) at the Knight Inlet sill.
8 - 9
Uncommon in the PNW. I've seen a few in Jervis Inlet, Sechelt Inlet, Narrows Inlet and near the Gordon Islands, BC. It is also found in Knight Inlet on steep walls. Little is known about its feeding behaviour although sea cucumbers and a BLOOD STAR have been recorded in the stomach contents. One specimen from Knight Inlet appeared to have the remains of a small SUNFLOWER STAR in its stomach.