Purple Ochre Sea Star (Pisaster ochraceus)

This sea star is also known as the purple sea star, ochre starfish, or Ochre sea star. This fascinating sea star is considered to be a keystone species as it prevents mussels and other competitors from overpopulating. Its vivid purple body and 5 points make it a hard creature to miss. So let's learn more about this very important animal.



Physical Description and Behavior


This sea star can be about 20 inches in diameter and usually has 5 points. And while they can be a variety of colors, such as orange, yellow, brown, or reddish, most of them are dark vivid purple. They also have a kind of pentagonal pattern on their bodies.


While they are in their larvae stage, they are filter feeders, meaning that they filter their food through the water. When they get older, they start to feed on mussels, chitons, snails, and more. Often by pulling apart the shell, and pulling out the animal inside.


The average sea star will only live about 4 years in the wild, but it can live upwards of 20 years in the right conditions.


Habitat and Location




While the Purple Ochre Sea Star has not been categorized by the IUCN Red List, it is known as a Keystone species. It has been documented that even the loss of a few of these sea stars can have a rippling effect on the rest of the ecosystem, so conservation of the species is of utmost concern.


This starfish can be found from the bottom part of Alaska, down the US and Canadian coast to the bottom of California. They often stay fairly close to the surface and prefer rocky beach areas with lots of rolling waves.


Check out more information about this sea star by watching the video below!



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