COLOURFUL SIX-ARMED STAR
Leptasterias aequalis species complex
6 tapering arms. Aboral surface quite rough. Often pinkish with mottling. To 10 cm (4 in) across.
Vancouver Island to central California; intertidal to shallow subtidal.
Eats various small bivalves, barnacles, snails, limpets and chitons. 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.
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