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WHAT IS THE STARFISH?


There are approximately 1800 different species of the common starfish, none of which can be classified as fish, despite their name. The starfish is an amazing animal, surviving without the benefit of eyes, ears or a nose. Despite all this, they continue to thrive. This star-shaped carnivorous animal is usually a dull yellow or orange, but can also be brightly colored.



As a natural defense mechanism, the starfish is able to change its body color to hide or escape from predators. Starfish vary greatly in size from under 1/2 inch to over 3 feet. The arms of the starfish are used for movement, catching prey and digestion. Unlike other animals, the starfish is able to grow a new arm if one is lost. Many starfish have five arms, but there are some deep-water species that carry more than fifty. The starfish's arms surround a small disc-like body, which houses a mouth in the center of the underside of the body.














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Most starfish feed on slow-moving or stationary animals. Clams, oysters and snails are the diet of choice, though starfish are also known to eat fish eggs and mollusk. The starfish stomach actually extends itself through the mouth to grab and consume food. The material is then transported to the starfish's digestive glands, which are located within its arms. Today, starfish live close to the sea around the world and typically stay in groups of forty or more. Most starfish live in the deepest parts of the sea and are often found hiding under rocks or in tide pools. Starfish are sometimes carried into shore during high tide. These are the starfish you may commonly see on the sand or close to shore. Because starfish can only survive two hours out of water, it's recommended that you leave starfish where you find them.

 

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