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Sea Stars: Asteroidea

Sand Star (astropecten Irregularis): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: Most sand stars are 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters) across, but those in deep water can be as large as 8 inches (20 centimeters) across. Sand stars are pale violet to yellowish and have five arms that form stiff angles. These stars have upper and lower plates fringed with small spines. The tube feet are pointed and have no suckers.


Geographic range: Sand stars live in the western part of the Atlantic Ocean from Norway to Morocco.


Habitat: Sand stars live in water 16 to 3,280 feet (5 to 1,000 meters) deep. They live on bottoms ranging from coarse gravel to fine mud, although they usually live on sand.


Diet: Sand stars are greedy predators of mollusks, worms, crustaceans, and other sea stars and their relatives. They dig up their prey and swallow it whole.


Behavior and reproduction: Sand stars live partially or completely buried. They travel into deeper water during the winter and swarm Sand stars are greedy predators of mollusks, worms, crustaceans, and other sea stars and their relatives. They dig up their prey and swallow it whole. (© Richard Herrmann/SeaPics.com) closer to shore when the seawater warms between May and July. They then release their eggs and sperm into the water, where fertilization takes place.


Sand stars and people: Arm damage to sand stars is used as an indicator of damage caused by fishing boats that drag their nets along the bottom.


Conservation status: Sand stars are not considered threatened or endangered. ∎

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceJellyfish, Sponges, and Other Simple AnimalsSea Stars: Asteroidea - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Sea Stars And People, Sand Star (astropecten Irregularis): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, CONSERVATION STATUS