5 short, broad arms (A), (but occasionally 4 or 6, or more rarely 7 (B)) with a depression between each arm. Aboral and oral surfaces with scale-like roughening. Blue, green, brown, red or mottled variations aborally. Oral surface pale. To 25 cm (10 in) across.
Sitka, Alaska, to the Gulf of California, Mexico, intertidal to 302 m (991 ft). But note that it is rarely reported from the coasts of Washington State and Oregon.
In favourable shallow habitats this colourful sea star can be very abundant, almost carpeting the bottom in a patchwork of green, red, blue and mottled colours. It is especially prolific in shallow bays on the west coast of Vancouver Island, on the central and north coast of British Columbia and in Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands). It is rarely found in the Strait of Georgia. It eats seaweeds, sponges, bryozoans, sea urchins and squid eggs and also scavenges dead animals. It has a very large cardiac stomach but is not able to open bivalves. This star is often host to the slender, dark brown BAT STAR COMMENSAL WORM Ophiodromus pugettensis on its oral surface.
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