Pink Short-spined Sea Star    Pisaster brevispinus



The pink short-spined sea star is one of the largest sea stars, growing up to 2 ft in diameter.  It is a close relative of the Purple sea star.  Marine biologists recognize this by giving both animals the same scientific first name (genus) of Pisaster.  


While the purple sea star can occur in both sheltered waters and exposed ocean rocks, the pink short-spined sea star is found only in sheltered waters and in the subtidal zone.  However they can be found in the spring climbing piling at local marinas.  But they can't tolerate any drying, unlike their purple cousins, and retreat to the subtidal area as daytime low tides become common.  


These animals range from southern Alaska to southern California.  Spawning occurs in the early summer.


They feed on a variety of prey depending on the substrate.  Barnacles, mussels and tube-dwelling polychaetes are attacked on hard substrates.  They turn to clams, snails and sand dollars on soft bottoms where they will use their tube feet to dig out clams.  One clam, called the Basket Cockle, will jump away from the sea star using it's big digging foot when touched by the sea star's tube feet.