Sea stars: staying clean on the ocean floor

Sea stars at Kachemak Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

Staying clean on the ocean floor is tough. Shipwrecks quickly become hot new real estate for fishes seeking shelter, barnacles set up shop on everything from rocks to gray whales, and algae slowly expand their domain to pretty much anything sitting around for too long.

So what’s a slow moving sea star to do? It turns out they are battle-ready and fully equipped to deal with an army of small critters constantly seeking development opportunities.

Sea stars have hundreds of microscopic pincers called pedicellaria on their backs. Anytime unwelcome debris lands on a sea star or some type of algae tries to move in, pedicellariae (plural version of pedicellaria) jump into action and pluck off any undesirables.

Ocean animals are so prepared to deal with their environment, it never ceases to amazing me!


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