Sunflower Sea Star at Night
Picture by: Florian Graner, Sealife Productions Picture taken on: June 2nd, 2010
Sunflower sea stars are large predators of the sea floor, reaching arm spans of up to three feet. They are surprisingly fast, voracious hunters for clams, urchins, snails, abalone, sea cucumbers, and other sea stars. Adult sunflower sea stars can move at the astonishing speed of one meter per minute using 15,000 tube feet which line the undersides of their bodies. They range in color from bright orange to purple, and have a soft, velvet-textured body and 16 to 24 arms studded with powerful suckers. They are easily stressed by predators such as large fish and other sea stars, and have the ability to shed arms to escape, growing them back within a few weeks. Sunflower sea stars are common in the Pacific from Alaska to Southern California.