Animals -> Marine Invertebrates -> Echinoderms -> Sea Stars

Sea Stars

Sea star was a traditional food infrequently eaten by some cultures. Inuit of the Belcher Islands in Canada are reported to have consumed a small amount of sea star [1]. The species consumed was not reported and more than 10 sea star species have been reported from this region, but Leptasterias groenlandica is an example of a widespread and common starfish in waters surrounding Baffin Island [2].


1.         Wein EE, Freeman MMR, Makus JC: Use of and preference for traditional foods among the Belcher Island Inuit. Arctic 1996, 49 (3):256-264.

2.         Yvon-Durocher G, Allen AP: Linking community size structure and ecosystem functioning using metabolic theory. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences 2012, 367(1605):2998-3007.

Sea stars include around 2,000 species distributed across the world’s oceans, In North America, sea star include one species, Leptasterias groenlandica, distributed in northern waters of the Atlantic and Arctic oceans and of the Bering Sea.

Sea stars are flattened and typically have five arms or rays giving them their characteristic star shape. On their ventral side, grooves radiate from the central mouth and are lined with double rows of tube feet.

Sea stars are mobile and use their tube feet and arms to slowly creep along the seabed. Most species are efficient predators, moving efficiently towards the source of chemical smell generated by invertebrate preys. Some sea star ingest their prey whole, while others extend their stomach membranes through their mouth to digest their prey outside their body. Most sea star have separate sexes, external fertilization, and a series of developmental larval stage, but some can also reproduce asexually by breaking off into parts that will regenerate into complete new sea star. 


Campbell A: "Spiny-skinned Invertebrates". In: The Encyclopedia of Underwater Life. Edited by Dawes ACJ: Oxford University Press; 2007.


Images provided below were obtained from: Encyclopedia of Life. Available from
Leptasterias groenlandica
© Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Invertebrate Zoology
Supplier: National Museum of Natural History Collections
This map is based on occurrence records available through the GBIF network
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