Utility top menu

Inhabitants of Oregon's Tidepools: Ochre Sea Star

Sea stars don’t show signs of growing old.

While human bodies age and change in our later decades, sea stars—and most other invertebrates—don’t go through such transformations.A classic “starfish” shape, ochre sea stars have five arms, each ending in a blunt point.  Despite the name, ochre sea stars also come in purple to dark rose.  All the back surface of an ochre seastar is covered with a loose net pattern of hard, light-colored bumps that protrude through a velvety surface; a small, light-colored bald spot is nearly always visible in the central back area.  These sea stars can grow up to just over a foot wide.

Our common ochre sea stars ("starfish") can survive many years in tidepools by being patient and tough: they cling tightly to the rock and move slowly by using the rows of tube feet on the underside; small plates just under the surface makes their bodies rather hard and a little stiff. The soft tissues between the hard bumps on the back include tiny pinchers that fend off parasites and some potential predators.

Sea stars cannot survive, however, if they’re exposed to air and sun too long, or if they get too warm, or if they’re unable to attach: pulling them off the rocks and/or moving them can end their long lives. “If you pry, it will die.”

Icon of camera Icon of notebook
Icon of camera Icon of notebook