Ochre Star

Pistaster ochraceus

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Ochre stars may be yellow, orange, brown, reddish or even purple. Small white spines form a pattern across their backs. Most Ochre stars have five stout, tapering arms but they may have four or seven.

Ochre stars eat mussels, barnacles, snails, limpets and chitons by pushing its stomach out of its body and into the shells of its prey. Ochre stars in the north feed less in winter.

More tolerant than any sea star of exposure to air, the Ochre Star can live up to 50 hours if shaded or under moist algae. Because of this tolerance, they can be easily spotted during low tide all along the Oregon coast in rocky tide pools. Like other members of their species, Ochre Stars can regenerate lost arms. Ochre stars eat so many other intertidal organisms their presence can strongly influence the structure of the intertidal community. Their natural predators include Sea Otters and Herring Gulls.

Range and Habitat

Ochre Stars can be found from Prince William Sound, Alaska to Santa Barbara, California. They live among rocks from middle and low intertidal zones to 288 feet (88 m) deep. Juvenile Ochre stars live in crevices and under rocks.

Conservation Status