"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Holding A Star In My Hand

Have you ever seen a live starfish? I suppose for people who grow up on the shores of the sea it isn't such a ridiculous thrill, but for me? Whole different story! I got to hold one in my hand recently, and we're not talking tame aquarium example, a wild starfish that we found by chance. It was amazing.

These are the perks that are involved in having a sister who is a biologist. She finds amazing things, things I am just completely awed by whenever we go for a stroll together. And then she knows all kinds of things about them! She rocks. Biology rocks. Starfish definitely rock.

I painted the above piece, of a starfish a while ago. A hopeful, sort of exotic painting done from a photograph that wasn't mine. I can't believe I actually got to recreate the scene in real life.

The variety of starfish we found was Asterias forbesi, Forbes' sea star. I wonder who Forbes was? I feel like I know a good bit about the flora and fauna of the woods and meadows, at least in my own climate, but I am a bit "at sea" if I go to the shore. I have lived here for years, I need to learn what to call the things that my boys find washed up on the beach, for crying out loud!

Consider this a start. Sea stars have an exoskeleton, like clams and lobsters so holding ours felt like holding an animated china figurine. So strange! They move by virtue of a million, million little tube feet tenacles on their backside, and their flexible arms. This video shows a great view of the little feet wiggling.

They walk, through the ocean and in order to eat any clams (their favorite food!) they have to walk across them! Can you imagine? If something attacks a sea star it has great regenerating powers. It can grow back a missing arm, like ours was working on or even regenerate almost an entire body as it still has one arm and one fifth of it's center. Crazy, right?  Another thing my sister told us that I thought was super cool was that sea stars have no blood! The orange dot you can see on the star we found is a special valve used to suck in or out, the proper amount of sea water and maintain the proper pressure internally in order to keep circulation just right. AND, they have an eye at the end of every arm! Cool or what?

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