Sea Stars Of The Pacific North West

Class Asteroidea
Order Forcipulatida
Family Asteriidae

VELCRO STAR

Stylasterias forreri

Identification:
5 long tapering arms with small disc. Rarely 6 rays. Many large spines surrounded by wreaths of tiny pincers. Grey, black, grey or more rarely, straw. Common name refers to the "sticky" surface. To 101 cm (40 in) across (a very large specimen found in Douglas Channel near Kitimat, BC*).

Range:
Kodiak Island, Alaska, to southern California; 6 to 532 m (20 to 1,745 ft).
Notes:
Prey include snails and chitons. It is rather uncommon, although it is seen more often toward the head of mainland fjords in BC, usually in deeper water. In general shape and texture it looks somewhat like the RAINBOW STAR but the colours are very different.
This star is noteworthy for the wreaths of 35 to 40 crossed pedicellariae (mini-pincers) that surround the each of the surface spines. Shaped like tiny paired, many-barbed fish-hooks, these pincers are remarkably powerful. When stimulated, the circle of pincers rises up around each spine and the jaws open wide, ready to snap shut the instant they are touched. You'll quickly discover this if you brush against one with a neoprene-gloved hand. Instantly the star will be stuck like flypaper. When you try to remove it, it will stick like glue to your other hand! A large VELCRO STAR can have as many as 50,000 of these pedicellariae.
These wicked little pincers can actually capture small fishes and other prey that accidentally settle on the star's surface. The prey is transferred to the mouth by means of the tube-feet and arms. This star fights back aggressively when attacked by the MORNING SUN STAR, inflicting thousands of potent pinches with its arsenal of pedicellariae while fleeing. In lab tests it was clocked at a top speed of 32 cm/min*.
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