Ochre Sea Star

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Ochre Sea Star
in Puget Sound
Common name: Ochre Sea Start or Purple
Sea Star
Scientific Name: Pisaster Ochraceus
What the Ochre Sea Start looks like
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The sea star has five stout rays that range in length from 10 to 25 centimeters
Most are purple but they can be orange, orange-ochre, and brown
The star contains many small spines (ossicles) on the middle part of the creature.
The ossicles grow no higher than 2 mm
The legs or the tube feet have suckers on their distal ends which allow them to
attach to rocks and live in heavily wave-swept areas
What the Ochre Sea Star eats
mussels
sea snails
barnacles
chitons
limpets
sea urchins
How the Sea Star eats
• When an Ochre Sea Star eats, it pries open a
tiny crack in a shell fish, then inserts its whole
flexible stomach into the shell and slowly
digests and sucks out the animal.
• The process can take 2 or
3 days.
How it produces
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Does not need a partner to produce
Fertilization occurs in the water column
The reproductive system consists of a pair of gonads branching into each ray off a
circular genital strand which is along the oral inner surface of the central disc
Size
• Ranges from 15 to 36 cm in diameter
• Arms reach up to 10 to 25 cm
Habitat
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Can be found in great numbers on mussel beds and on wave-washed rocky shores
The juveniles are often found in crevices and under rocks
Its depth range is from above the low-tide zone to 90 m in depth
They are very durable and can tolerate a loss of thirty-percent of its body weight in
body fluids
Can find them in locations such as the Puget Sounds and areas in California. Mostly
on the east coast
Interesting Facts
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Ochre Sea Stars are a favorite food for otters and some sea birds
When the tide goes out, their skin and arms become stiff and hard, for protection
from predators
When the tide comes back in and covers the Sea Stars, their arms become soft and
flexible again so they can move around
These animals can be exposed to air for up to 50 hours if they are in the shade or
among moist algae
Many live to a minimal age of four to six years and could live as long as twenty
years
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