Scientific Name Pisaster Ochraseus
Native To Northern Pacific Coast from Alaska to Mexico
Habitat Intertidal zone on the coast at depths of up to 100m
Diet mussels, limpets, snails, barnacles, echinoids and some decapods (lobster, shrimp, etc.)
Size and Age Can grow to be 10 to 25 cm in diameter and could live as long as 20 years (making it the longest lived star in the Pacific NW)
Ochre sea stars are a highly abundant species of sea star found in the pacific intertidal zone. Their name is derived from the lively purple to orange color of their bodies. Living in wave swept areas, ochre stars have very strong suction feet that they use to cling to rocky surfaces to avoid being washed away. Ochre stars have a major effect on their ecosystems, so much so that they 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) take over and dominate, decreasing biodiversity.