As we searched the low tide sandy areas of Three Sisters Islands my son called me over to see this five-legged sea star which I have since learned is called a Lined Sea Star. I’ve never seen a sea star, or starfish, while out on the boat, nor have I found one anyplace else on my Florida seashore travels along the central east coast.
This one was damaged and missing one-half of two legs with another leg broken and ready to detach. What was interesting was the star shapes next to him. The sea star was not moving and when we carefully touched him. I’m pretty sure he was dead, but they do move very slowly, so maybe not. I know next to nothing about them.
According to my Florida’s Living Beaches book (affiliate link to Amazon’s 2nd Edition of this book), the area of Florida where this sea star is usually found is not where I live. I was surprised to see it, and sorry that it seemed to be dead, or at the very least, in distress.
Either he flipped himself around and left these star shapes in the sand, or a predator did it. It’s a mystery. (Lot’s of things eat starfish. Fish, turtles, birds, and marine snails, to name a few.)
I took this photo, then moved him carefully to the deeper pool of water nearby, thinking he may have needed water. We see a lot of birds on this island, so maybe a bird snatched him up from somewhere and he died here. Or maybe he was having trouble moving with two legs partially missing! They can grow their legs back, so there is hope for him I suppose.
A few weeks later I also found a tiny sea star in this same area.
This Lined Sea Star (Luidia clathrata) was aproximately 6 inches in size. The legs were very stiff and the color was slightly pinkish. I wish he had been alive, and he could have been, but just seeing a sea star out on the sand was quite an experience for me.
I also found a pretty awesome horse conch that was larger than the usual tiny specimens that the hermits occupy.