BAT STARS
Patiria miniata

Habitat: Bat stars typically are found on sandy and rocky bottoms.

Average adult size: Adults can grow to be 8 inches across.

Natural history: In sea stars, it is easy to see the five-sided symmetry of the echinoderms. Most species have five arms coming from a central disk. On the underside is the mouth and the tube feet. The tube feet are used to move about, cling to the bottom and capture prey. A unique feature of the echinoderms is a system of water filled-tubes. This "water vascular system" controls the movement of the bat star's tube feet. Bat stars are well-adapted to life in the kelp forest. They will eat almost anything. Their diet includes plants and animals, as well as scavenging dead or dying animals. They can extend their stomachs outside their bodies in order to feed. The bat star oozes its digestive juices onto its prey and slurps up its liquefied lunch. Bat stars are the most abundant sea star on the west coast. They are especially numerous in kelp forests. When some sea stars are captured by a predator, they may cast off an arm to escape, just like a lizard losing its tail. But the sea star can regenerate the arm, growing back a new arm where the old one was lost.

Range: From Alaska south to Baja, California.


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