|Science Museum of Virginia sea stars|
Strange creatures are our sea stars; they have no blood, no brains, and if we chop them up, as long as there is a fifth left, they will grow everything back. As for the no brains thing, anyone who has seen “SpongeBob SquarePants” can attest that Patrick Star, SpongeBob’s best friend, is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Comedy is not the only reason Patrick is a little slow on the uptake. The creator of SpongeBob, Stephen Hillenburg, taught marine biology at Orange County Ocean Institute in California and puts weird facts like that into the story and characters. Sea stars actually have something going on upstairs, but it’s just a nerve ring instead of a brain.
Breathing is another thing that our dear sea stars don’t do like most of the creatures we come in contact with. They absorb sea water through a small dot normally located somewhere on the top facing side of the sea star; this is called a madreporite. The water they absorb is used in their circulatory system (yes, you read that right, sea water being used for blood). While they have the water they might as well make the most of it and absorb the oxygen out of it.
For vision the sea star uses a tiny dot on the end of each arm to see. If you find a sea star large enough you may notice the tiny dot (it looks like someone put the point of a highlighter on the very tip of the arm). Their vision is not like ours and is more like dark and light (sun’s out - sun’s not out).
To get around, the sea star uses its arms with hundreds of little, tiny tube feet on each arm. None of the arms are dominant. Our Forbes Sea Stars have 5 arms each and have been clocked at a whopping five inches a minute! That is a sea star run! Full speed, petal to the metal, run! (That’s .005 mph.) When you don’t have to run down your food and most things don’t want to eat you or will only take a bite that you will grow back, speed is not a major concern. Their favorite food is most bivalves (animals with 2 shells) like oysters, mussels, and clams. The creatures that they are most concerned about avoiding are crabs, bottom dwelling fish, sea gulls, sea urchins, lobsters and (be surprised) humans.