Everything you didn’t know about Starfish. Surprising facts!

    If you are in the Dominican Republic, don’t pass up the chance to visit the Blue Lagoon and get to know its beautiful and unusual inhabitants. In this article, you will find all the surprising facts about them.
     

    Starfish are not just ornaments decorating the sea floor. At first glance, they seem primitive and somehow not real. But appearances are deceiving. These creatures possess complex nerve and digestive systems.
    For example, did you know that Starfish are true predators? Or that Starfish can travel considerable distances on the sea floor?

    starfish

    FACTS ABOUT STARFISH

    We have gathered together for you the most interesting facts about these unusual creatures

    • Starfish are among the oldest habitants of our planet. They have been around for over 400 million years.
    • Starfish belong to the Echinodermata Class and can be divided into more than 1,500 species.
    • The size of Starfish can range from a few inches to nearly 3 feet.
    • The lifespan of some Starfish can be more than 30 years.
    • Usually, Starfish have 5 points however some types can have from 6 to 12 points with some even numbering 45 to 50.
    • It is hard to believe but their arms (called rays) contain parts of their digestive system and reproductive organs.
    • Starfish even have eyes. They are located at the end of each arm. But actually, they are quite primitive and cannot distinguish objects but react only to light and darkness.
    • Every Starfish has also suction-cups and tentacles on each ray which help it to move around the sea floor. Each ray moves independently from the others but their actions are always coordinated.
    • The average speed of an adult is 4 inches a minute and the maximum speed is 10-12 inches a minute.
    • Observations of Starfish have shown that they do not travel more than 500 yards.
    • Starfish have the ability to turn from their backs onto their stomachs.
    • Starfish have a very developed sense of touch. They try to rid themselves of sand and parasites from the surface of their body and respond to being touched.
    • Starfish have an amazing ability to regenerate. For example, in case of danger, the starfish can discard all its rays, and then grow them back.
    • There are instances where the whole body was regenerated from a damaged ray. The lost parts of Starfish usually regenerate faster in young Starfish than in old ones, and the warmer tropical species faster than the cold water variety.
    • Starfish do not have gills or lungs. They breathe through special growths on the surface of their body.
    • Starfish are even capable of producing elementary conditioned reflexes. So, often individuals who have fallen into a net have learned how to get out of them faster than those caught for the first time.

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    THE SURFACE OF STARFISH BODIES CAN BE:

    • smooth
    • spiked
    • prickly
    • rough
    • velvety
    • mosaic
    • monochrome and patterned
    • bright and faded

    MOST OFTEN, STARFISH HAVE A VARIETY OF COLORS

    • different shades of red
    • blue
    • brown
    • pink
    • purple
    • yellow
    • black

    Starfish that live in deeper water are paler. Those that live in shallow water have the brightest colors.


    FOOD AND HUNTING

    Starfish have a kind of sense of smell. They are capable of detecting chemicals in the water which helps them to hunt.

    Yes. Most Starfish are true carnivores!
    Here is a partial list of the creatures Starfish hunt for:

    • mollusks
    • crustaceans
    • fish
    • plankton
    • sponges
    • corals
    • snails and slugs

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    Other invertebrates including echinoderms. For example, sea urchins are a favorite of Starfish.

    The act of hunting, absorption and digestion of prey is a story in itself. We advise the feint-hearted and sensitive to flip through these details.

    Starfish are not finicky eaters. They consume everything they can digest including carrion.
    Starfish have on their abdomen a mouth through which it absorbs prey. If the victim is a mollusk, then the starfish crawls on top of it and it is sucked up by the rays. Starfish emit an adhesive liquid which makes it possible to adhere firmly to the flaps of the mollusk shell.
    After this, a long struggle begins: the mollusk squeezes the flaps of its shell, defending itself from the predator while the Starfish seeks to uncover them to gain access to the contents.

    Usually, the outcome of this confrontation for the mollusk is not good: the Starfish is much stronger. And besides, for a satisfying dinner, it needs only to create a tiny slit.
    Then something incredible happens: the Starfish turns out its stomach which can stretch to 4 inches. The stomach penetrates the shell of the mollusk where the whole digestive process, lasting several hours, takes place.


    Thanks to an extendable stomach, Starfish can even digest prey considerably larger than themselves. There is a known case of a Starfish dying where, having swallowed so large a sea urchin, could not spit out the remains.

     

    REPRODUCTION

    Starfish reproduce in different ways:

    Regenerative system of reproduction

    Due to the softening of the connective tissue, Starfish break up into several parts or sheds its rays. From these parts grow full starfish. 

    Sexual reproduction.

    Starfish have sex glands located in pairs at the base of each ray. During mating, males and females join their rays and release sperm and eggs.

    This type of Starfish which creates offspring by the female releasing around 200 eggs.

    Female starfish whose larvae ride with the currents are able to release up to 200 million eggs!
    Among Starfish, there are also same-sex types. These Starfish possess both male and female sex organs. Offspring are hatched in a lead-out bag or special holes on their back.


    There are some species that during their life change from male to female (for example, Asterina type)

    THREE TYPES OF STARFISH LARVAE

    One type of larva from eggs swims freely and feeds on tiny pieces of algae. After a few weeks, it attaches itself to the bottom and gradually turns into a small Starfish with a diameter of 2 inches.

    In another type, the larva has large yolk reserves which make it possible to dispense with additional nutrition and grow into an adult Starfish.

    For Starfish living in cold waters, the larvae remain on the mother's body and concentrate around her mouth opening. Therefore, during this period, the female has to do without food and must move very carefully, bending the body so as not to harm the larvae.

    The size of the larvae usually does not exceed 1-2 inches.

     

    Starfish larvae can be carried great distances by currents.

     

    Starfish only become sexually mature at between 2 and 3 years of age.

    The starfish is almost invulnerable. It is protected from natural enemies.

    sharp thorns (sometimes poisonous)

    the ability to bury themselves in sand in case of danger

    Sometimes however, the star is overcome by parasites:

    • shrimp
    • mollusks
    • polychaete worms

    They settle on the back of a starfish and damage its tissue. The star tries every way possible to get rid of its uninvited guests.

    Benefits for the Ecological system

     Starfish positively affect the ecology of the world’s oceans and the planet as a whole:

    • absorb and dispose of carbon dioxide which is harmful to the planet and atmosphere of the earth and every year, becomes more and more prevalent
    • are the sanitarians of the seabed, eating carrion and the remains of dead marine organisms as well as weaker and sick marine animals


    Some of the brightest and most beautiful representatives of this species live not far from the southern coast of the Dominican Republic. You can get to know them by visiting the Blue Lagoon. Visiting this natural pool, located right in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, is included in all excursions to the Saona island.

    National R reserve. All of nature in these territories is carefully protected.

     

    The lives of starfish are also protected. To prevent harm to them, it is important to follow several rules.

    When you find a starfish, gently and carefully pick it up.

    At first glance, it may seem that all these starfish are dead or artificial. But this is not so. When it comes in contact with a human, the starfish freezes and remains paralyzed so as to avoid harm.

    If you place the starfish in your hand and do not move it for a while, you will soon feel how cautiously it feels for you with its suckers. But be careful - the star can stick to you tightly.
    And most importantly - since October 2017, the Dominican Republic's Nature Conservation Service has banned removing starfish from the water in order to preserve the population of the species.

    So let's take care of nature in general and of the starfish in particular.

    And then everyone will be happy to again and again to return to the Blue Lagoon to visit their old Starfish acquaintances.

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