Sea Stars Of The Pacific North West

Class Asteroidea
Order Forcipulatida
Family Asteriidae

DRAB SIX-ARMED STAR

Leptasterias hexactis species complex

Identification:
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.

Range:
Alaskan Peninsula to northern Washington State; intertidal and shallow subtidal.
Notes:
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.