I went on a five day kayaking trip south of town, and saw and experienced so much that it's going to take a few posts to cover it. This one will be dedicated to starfishes. I know that scientist types always insist that we call starfishes "sea stars," on the grounds that they are not fishes. True enough, they are not fishes, but they are not stars, either, so leave the English language alone!
This starfish may look familiar to attentive readers of the blog (yes, both of you). It is Solaster stimpsoni - the Stimpson's sun star that I included in an earlier blog entry. This one isn't as pretty, but much, much more typical of the species' normal limp rag attitude.
This one is always popular. It is the very common sunflower star, or Pycnopodia helianthoides. It is often orange, and considered a top predator in soft substrates. The largest ones are one meter across.
Why did the computer tip some of my photos on their sides??? Oh well. This is the #1 most common stafish in Sitka Sound: the ochre star Pisaster ochraceus. It is found high in the tidal zone, and comes in the following colors (or flavors, as some like to say): chocolate, grape, and orange.
This pretty and not terribly common starfish is the rainbow star, Orthasterias koehleri.
Always a popular starfish, this one is called Mediaster aequalis. Ihave only found it a dozen times or so.
And this one is the best find of the trip: an undescribed species of the Genus Henricia. It looks just like EC21 in Andy Lamb's "Marine life of the Pacific Northwest." However, probably the same taxon in Lambert's "Sea Stars of British Columbia, Southeast Alaska, and Puget Sound" has six rays ("arms") and looks strangely like a Leptasterias. According to a biologist, this is indeed the still-unnamed species that the University of British Columbia was working on describing. I found it in Beauchamp Island, but did not collect it for genetic testing (Sorry - I guess someone at UC Fullerton wanted it). If you find one, I guess it's supposed to be placed in ethyl alcohol.
Okay, it's not a starfish, but a close relative. This little guy is very common in some places, and is called a daisy brittle star, Ophiopholis aculeata.
This is another relative of the starfishes: the extremely common orange sea cucumber Cucumaria miniata.