When I traveled to Florida this past summer to visit my son, we visited with some of his friends and enjoyed a swim in their backyard, saltwater pool. Off to the side was a glass table with a bunch of dried starfish, or sea stars, so I took a photo. The home owners were not home, so I didn’t have a chance to ask them where the starfish came from. I know they have a nice boat and suspect they may have collected them from a trip to a Florida beach, or offshore island.
In Florida there are five armed sea stars, like the ones in the photo, and some with 9 legs / arms. Some have so many legs, like the feather star, that you wouldn’t think of them as starfish. I’ve never personally seen many starfish on Florida beaches. Occasionally there would be a piece on the sand, or more often I’d find living sea stars. Even those I didn’t come across too often. But I didn’t live on the beach and only took occasional day trips with the kids to spend a few hours.
I’d love to have access to the beach in the early morning before the crowds arrive. Being able to walk along the shore at odd hours of the day, or right after a storm, would be wonderful. I’m envious of people who live near that expanse of nature that changes so rapidly and offers up such treasures.
You can see native Lined Sea Stars in action at this post on the i Love Shelling blog. She also has an image of the 9-armed variety.
What a magical find – a dried (and whole) starfish sitting right there on the beach! I can’t say that I’ve ever found one, just pieces. Unlike the mollusk’s shell, the exoskeleton of the sea star is easily broken that is why it’s difficult to find a nice specimen to collect.
Sea stars are popular designs for clothing and stationery too, and I’ve found that many Brides choose starfish wedding paper as often as they choose palm trees to signify a beach themed wedding.
Finding one little starfish on the beach is a special gift, but finding two – well, that’s romantic!
On southern Florida beaches you may see the five-armed “lined sea star” or the “nine-armed” -and that’s it’s name – sea star and those can be a foot across in size. There is also a smaller, reddish one that contains little spines. After storms you may come across living sea stars that have washed up on shore since they live in the sand in shallow water. If you find living ones on the beach you could place them back into the water, because without water they will not be able to move, and will dry out and die in the sun.
In Florida the sea stars are more commonly found on southern beaches, including the Keys and in the panhandle area.
Who does not love to come across a big, white (all in one piece) starfish when walking along the seashore? Well, you might find a starfish that you wouldn’t recognize as such because they can look very different than what we typically think.
Starfish are sea stars. Although we think of them as being 5 legged creatures and most likely picture them as a bright white color, in reality they are quite different.
Starfish are not fish at all. They are part of the Echinoderm family along with sea urchins, sea cucumbers and sand dollars. They have an exoskeleton and radial symmetry which means that all their legs grow from a central body and some sea stars have many more than five legs. In fact some stars don’t look anything like the stars we picture. They are very often colorful and can be bright orange, red and purple.
Some of them have bumps and spines on top and some are smooth. One thing all starfish have in common is that they are found only in salt water. They are mostly nocturnal also, to avoid predators as much as possible.
The feather star has long feathery legs which it uses to grab it’s food as it clings to coral or sea fans. The feather star can look something like a colorful underwater shrub. The crown of thorns sea star is quite an amazing looking creature with spikes all over it (pictured here).
Sea stars are fascinating marine life. They can even regenerate limbs and divide themselves to become two. In some cases they can become a new animal from just one arm!
I recently had a reader ask me if the treasure she found along the beaches of Sanibel, Florida was a Sea Biscuit. I have a couple of sea biscuits, which are puffy sand dollars, but I didn’t find my large one, I bought it at a shop years ago. I may have found the small one, but don’t remember.
Anyway I really don’t know much about the sea biscuit so I checked with my favorite shell blogger, Pam at the “i love shelling” blog and she had one page, with lots of cool photos, of many things, but no sea biscuits. Pam lives there and goes shelling most every day (how lucky is that?) and she also mentions that she hasn’t found any Sea Biscuits on Sanibel. According to her they are found in the upper Florida Keys.
She does have photos of “potato” or “heart” urchins on the beach.
You can visit that page here.
Do you have any info to add about the Sea Biscuit sand dollar? Leave a comment to help us out please!