Leather Star

Scientific Name Dermasterias imbricata

Native To Northern Pacific Coast from Alaska to Mexico

Habitat Littoral zone on the coast at depths of up to 100m

Diet Omnivorous: eating both algae and other invertebrates such as urchins, sponges, cucumbers and other small stars.

Size and Age Can grow to be 25 cm in diameter

Natural History

Leather stars are a pacific invertebrate dwelling in waters that are typically cold. They are so named for the leathery like texture of their body. These animals have a reticulated body pattern that they use to camouflage. Despite being a predator of other ocean invertebrates, leather stars make up about 50% of the diet of morning sun stars, a 10-12 armed sea star with a voracious appetite. Though leather sea stars can make a getaway of about 15 cm/minute, this is not fast enough and they are often overtaken by the morning sun star. They are also preyed upon by sea gulls and otters, but if not completely consumed they are able to regenerate their bodies.

Least Concern

Conservation Status

Many ocean invertebrates requires delicate and balanced conditions to survive. For this reason they are known as an indicator species. When ocean conditions change, ocean invertebrates are the first to be affected. Rising ocean temperatures and ocean acidification (from urban and agricultural run-off) are some of the factors that alter the water quality of our oceans.

Interesting Facts

  • Uses a gill-like structure on its back to breathe.
  • Leather stars have a distinctive smell which resembles garlic and sulphur
  • Each arm has a light sensing organ that is used to navigate their rocky environment and find prey
  • Leather stars are smooth and velvety and are covered in a reddish-brown pattern
  • May reproduce asexually and regenerate if split in two.