The Echinodermata is made up of over 6000 marine species of sea urchins, feather stars, sea stars, brittle stars, sand dollars, and sea cucumbers. There are around 180 species of these animals that live in the waters around Vancouver Island. Look in any tidal pool, and you will see many types of these fascinating creatures.
Although they come in many forms and body shapes, they all have radial symmetry and a five-part symmetry, and they all have tube feet or tubular appendages. Echinoderms like sea urchins and sea stars play a very important role in the ecology of the ocean shore by controlling the quantity and quality of seashore creatures with their ferocious appetites. Some of them will only eat live animals while some will eat both live and dead creatures, helping to keep the shores clean and some others only eat plant life.
The predator most feared by echinoderms are the sea stars themselves, but birds, otters, and humans all feed to a lesser degree on them.
A brittle star’s arms are supported plates made from calcium carbonate. These plates work together like ball and socket joints to give the brittle star’s arms flexibility. This gives these stars very flexible arms that can have a graceful movement that allows them to move quite quickly. Read More….
The Fat Henricia star is found in the North Pacific Ocean, they are very common in the Pacific Northwest. They can be seen on the beach, under rocks, in tidal pools, or on gravel. Its aquatic range is the coastal and subtidal zones. Read More….
Giant Orange Sea Cucumber
The Giant Orange Sea Cucumber can be found from Haida Gwaii to California including all the outer islands. They are usually seen at depths of between 20 meters and 280 meters, but can sometimes be seen much closer to the surface. Read More….
The leather starfish has smooth, slimy skin and is a mottled reddish-brown to orange color. The gill areas are rusty brown and the outside edge is a greenish-grey color. Five arms taper broadly towards the extensive central disk and can reach up to 15 cm in length. It has a smell that is similar to garlic. Read More….
The ocher starfish is also known as the purple sea star. They grow to about 18 cm and can live for up to 20 years, making them one of the longest living sea stars in our area. You can see them from Alaska to California, you see them at low tide by the hundreds in some areas, and they come in colors of purple, orange, yellow, and brown. Read More….
The sand dollar is the common name for a marine animal in the same family as the starfish. They have a rigid, flattened, disk with a 5 petal design on the top, made of firmly united plates lying just beneath the thin skin. Read More….
The sea urchin is found across the ocean floors worldwide. Sea urchins are commonly found along the rocky ocean floor in both shallow and deeper water and sea urchins are also commonly found inhabiting coral reefs. They can be found everywhere on the shores of the Pacific Northwest. Read More….
The sunflower starfish can be found from Alaska to Southern California and can be found in great abundance on all areas of the pacific northwest coast. They can reach lengths of 46 cm, making them one of the biggest starfish in our area. Read More….