Sea Stars Of The Pacific North West

Class Asteroidea
Order Valvatida
Family Goniasteridae

SPINY RED STAR

Hippasteria spinosa

Identification:
5 (rarely 6*) arms with broad, very spiny aboral surface. Vermilion. Sometimes puffy appearance. Covered with conspicuous bivalved, unstalked pedicellariae which can be seen with the naked eye. To 34 cm (13 in) across.

Range:
Alaska to southern California and also to the Sea of Okhotsk; 10 to 520 m (33 to 1,716 ft).
Notes:
Uncommon. Seen fairly often in the Gordon Islands near Port Hardy, BC and in ORANGE SEA PEN beds in Puget Sound. Eats a variety of prey, including ORANGE SEA PENS, PINK GORGONIAN CORALS*, PLUMOSE ANEMONES, ORANGE ZOANTHIDS and PINK HYDROCORALS*. The tiny, clam-shaped pincers of this species are quite remarkable and diagnostic, easily distinguishing it from the THORNY STAR, which is somewhat similar-looking but which has fewer spines and none of the bivalved pincers.
This star causes the SWIMMING SEA ANEMONE to react with a dramatic swimming escape response, but I have never seen it actually eating one.