13. Jul, 2015

Sea stars

Imagine squeezing your stomach out through your mouth and into a takeaway box. Imagine then, your stomach digesting the food before you slide your stomach back into your own body...that is what a sea star (star fish) does at meal times. It is like something out of a science fiction film!

     Walking along the beach yesterday morning, I found this little fellow turned upside down on the beach, its tubular feet (which are filled with water) waved wildly up at me, trying desperately to turn over to save himself from the seagulls that hunted the shoreline.

      These animals, yes, they are indeed animals and not fish (they don’t have gills, scales or fins!) come in all sorts of colours, shapes and sizes. However, unlike us, they run entirely on water! There isn’t a drop of blood in their bodies. But at the tip of each arm, you will find a wee little eye. It cannot see much but it can sense light and dark.

       Their family tree consists of around 2,000 species of sea stars plus the sand dollars, the sea urchins, the sea cucumber and the sun star. This means that their body plan has five sections (or multiples thereof) arranged around a central disk.  However, the sun star has up to forty arms.

       When we are threatened or frightened, we will often run but the sea star will drop an arm or two, knowing that within a year, it will grow another. How amazing is nature?

       And so, back on the beach with my kind and unassuming husband, we scooped the tiny sea star up and slipped him back into the water. We smiled as he hurried off on another adventure in the big blue sea.