Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Wrinkly, puffy skin. Purple

I don't know why I took this photo of a sea star. She was in an awkward spot, wedged into a crack I could barely reach, and I was sure to find more, I thought. (I didn't; the tide caught me delving under stones and I had to rush away.)

I almost tossed the photo, but then I looked at it more closely.

Pisaster ochraceus. The arms are as usual; hard, knobbly skin. But around the central portion, the skin is puffy and either lined or ridged. (It helps to click for the full size photo.)

Zooming in on the original. I think those are curly ridges.

I'd never noticed skin like this on a sea star before. I looked up a bunch of my old photos; none of them are puffy. On the web, I found one with the wrinkles, a close-up of the skin taken in 2011. By the accompanying photos, I think it was somewhere on the Washington-BC coastline; the photographer doesn't say.

Now I find that I must head out again next low tide, carrying a hand lens to examine every sea star I can find.

By the way, while you're here, notice the unusual green wrists of the purple shore crab nestled beside the star.

(I've decided that I should really be recording the exact location of the intertidal critters I photograph; from one beach to the next, the communities are so different. This was taken almost exactly on the 50th parallel north.)


  1. Have you thought of joining iNaturalist? You can upload photos to your own page and pinpoint them to within a few metres using the map function. There are a lot of other advantages too.

  2. Actually, I joined iNaturalist some 8 years ago, but then didn't follow up. I was posting locations on the Flickr map, but a couple of years ago I gave up, mostly because of Laurie's illness.
    I've re-loaded iNaturalist tonight and added the latest sea star photos, to see how it all works. Maybe not as convenient as Flickr: I really like the batch function there, but the iNat community is more specialized.


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