Scientific NamePisaster Ochraseus
Native To Northern Pacific Coast (from Alaska to Mexico)
Habitat Intertidal zone to a depth of 100 m (328 ft)
Diet Mussels, limpets, snails, barnacles, echinoids and some decapods (such as lobster and shrimp)
Size and Age Up to 10-25 cm (4-10 in) in diameter; average lifespan of 20 years
Ochre stars (also known as common sea stars) are a highly abundant species of sea stars found in the pacific intertidal zone. Their name is derived from the lively purple-to-orange colour of their bodies. Living in wave swept areas, ochre stars have very strong suction feet that cling to rocky surfaces to avoid being washed away.
Ochre stars have a major effect on their ecosystems and have been identified as a keystone species. The presence of ochre stars in intertidal zones allows for rich biodiversity. When ochre stars disappear from their environment, California mussels (one of their primary food sources) explode in number, decreasing biodiversity.