Marine Life‎ > ‎Hawaii‎ > ‎Invertebrates‎ > ‎

Sea Stars and Brittle Stars

Acanthaster planci

(1: Pipe Dreams, Kona / 2-3: Menpachi Caves, Lanai / 4: Hoover's, Kona / 5: Pentagon, Kona / 6: Kanaka Nui, Kauai / 7: Reef's End, Molokini / 8: Camp One, Kauai)

The thorns are very sharp and coated with toxin.  Do not pet the sea star.  In natural light, it's a uniform bright green color.  

It can change its color somewhat by extending or retracting its tentacles; this picture and its small inset were taken just a few seconds apart:
(1: Kaloko Arches, Kona)

This is a tiny juvenile, less than 1" across:
(1: Pahoehoe Beach, Kona)

Crown-of-thorns stars eat coral, though at least in Hawaii it hasn't been a major problem.  Triton's trumpet snails eat crown-of-thorns stars:
(1: Plate Lunch, Kauai)

Cushion Star

Culcita novaeguineae

(1: Shark Pit, Maui / 2: Kaloko Arches, Kona / 3: Pipe Dreams, Kona / 4: Brennecke's Ledge, Kauai / 5: Turtle Canyons, Oahu / 6: Mala Pier, Maui / 7: Harbor Ledges, Kauai / 8: High Rock, Kona)

These are often home to tiny sea star shrimp, which are the same color as whatever cushion star they live on.  They're usually on the underside of the star, so it's necessary to (gently!) pick up the star to check.  If you do, make sure you don't squeeze it, and put it back where you found it.
(1: No-Name Paradise, Lanai)

Fisher's Star

Mithrodia fisheri

(1: Shark Pit, Maui / 2: Hoover's, Kona / 3,6: Sheraton Caverns, Kauai / 4: Camp One, Kauai / 5: Harbor Ledges, Kauai)

This is a juvenile:
(1: Lip Service, Kauai)

Green Linckia

Linckia guildingi

(1: Pawai, Kona / 2-3: Garden Eel Cove, Kona / 4-5: No Name, Lanai / 6: Pyramid Point, Lehua / 7: Niihau Arches, Niihau / 8: Dog Beach, Kona)

Knobby Star

Pentaceraster cumingi

(1: Red Hill, Maui / 2: Fish Rain, Molokai)

Magnificent Star

Luidia magnifica

(1: Hale O Honu, Kauai)

Purple Velvet Star

Leiaster leachi

(1: First Cathedral, Lanai / 2: Shark Pit, Maui / 3: Camp One, Kauai)

Red Velvet Star

Leiaster glaber

(1: Harbor Ledges, Kauai / 2: Stone House, Kauai)

Spotted Linckia

Linckia multifora

(1,5-6: Second Cathedral, Lanai / 2: Black Rock, Maui / 3: Pawai, Kona / 4: Kaloko Arches, Kona / 7: Niihau Arches, Niihau)

Given the coloration, I bet it tastes like strawberries.  

Like most sea stars, linckia can reproduce by dropping an arm.  The arm grows into a new sea star, as in the 3rd photo; the star then regrows the missing arm, as in the 4th photo.

Brittle Stars

Most brittle stars are only active at night.  During the day, they hide under rocks and in crevices.

Spiny Brittle Star

Ophiocoma erinaceus

(1: Kealia Beach, Maui)

Sponge Brittle Star

Ophiactus sp.

(1: Kaloko Arches, Kona)

Tiny in comparison to the other stars on this page; no more than an inch across.

Toothed Brittle Star

Ophiacoma dentata

(1: Pawai, Kona)