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The Seashore

Common Starfish (Asterias rubens)

Starfish eating a mussel.

Common Starfish moving on to a mussel to feed.

This starfish has five tapering arms arrising from a plump central disc. The surface is covered with a tiny scattering of white spines and pedicellariae. The larger starfish specimens are soft when held and then have a tendency to droop. The body colour is usually a pale orange and the usual size is around 12 - 20 cm. In sheltered conditions it may grow double this size or even more.

The Common Starfish uses its tube feet in feeding as well as for attachment to the rock. It feeds by inverting the stomach on to food which is usually a soft bodied animal such as sponges, sea squirts, hydroids. Mussels shells are opened by the tube feet on the "arms" pulling the two shells apart and then inverting the stomach on to the soft parts. Digestion is, therefore, on the outside of the body. There are separate sexes and fertilisation is external producing planktonic larvae.

Asterias rubens

The commonest starfish living on the seashore. It inhabits the lower zones of rocky shores as well as on some depositing shores. This is one of the few Echinoderms which can tolerate brackishwater. Here it can be found feeding on mussels and oysters.
Widespread all around the Atlantic and Channel coasts.

A Starfish

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