How to Distinguish from Similar Species: Pteraster tesselatus does not have a visible madreporite and secretes copious quantities of slime. Asterina miniata and Mediaster aequalis have clearly visible interlocking ossicles on the aboral surface.
Geographical Range: Sitka, Alaska to Sacramento Reef, Baja California, Mexico; more common in the northern half of its range
Depth Range: Intertidal to 90 m
Habitat: Mostly on rocks, can also be found on sand or mud. Seems to prefer at least partially sheltered areas.
Biology/Natural History: Prey include diatoms, sponges, bryozoans, sea pens, anemones, sea cucumbers, sea urchins, and chitons, ascidians, and fish eggs. Anemones are said to be one of its major prey items. It usually swallows its prey whole and digests them internally. The swimming anemone Stomphia sp has a strong escape response from this species; as does the purple urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus. Stomphia swims away, while S. purpuratus pulls in its tube feet, depresses its spines, and extends its pedicellariae; then races away. The scaleworm Arctonoe vittata is a common commensal, and the worm and the seastar are mutually attracted to one another. A parasitic barnacle Dendrogaster sp may be found inside. In Wasington, spawning is from April to August. Females release yellow eggs which are fertilized in the water.
Flora and Fairbanks, 1966
Kozloff 1987, 1996
Smith and Carlton, 1975
General Notes and Observations: Locations, abundances, unusual behaviors:
This individual, seen in a tidepool at Cape Flattery, has only 4 rays.
Authors and Editors of Page:
Dave Cowles (2005): Created original page