Sunflower Star
(Pycnapodia helianthoides)

image of a Sunflower Star

Image ID: 122-01

Other shots:  image of a Sunflower Star
Comments : Sunflower Stars are very common in northwest waters. These stars are the largest in the world, and I believe they are also the fastest. When a Sunflower Star puts it in high gear, you can actually see it move across the bottom at a fair clip. Sunflower Stars can grow well over 30 inches in diameter, and usually have 20 to 22 arms. To the touch, they feel like a sponge covered in Velcro. If you look closely at a Sunflower Star, you will note a kaleidascope of colors - orange, red, purple, green, and white are often presents. These veracious predators often feed on clams. At Three Tree Point, where the bottom is soft, we often witness large Sunflower Star excavating a hole in an attempt to unearth a clam. When threatened, these stars can drop an arm in hopes of appeasing the predator. The arm will later re-grow. The only Sunflower Star predator I know of is the Morning Sun Star.
Common name : Sunflower Star
Scientific Name : Pycnapodia helianthoides
Location Found : KVI Tower Reef, Central Puget Sound
Actual Size : 30 inches
Camera Used : Sea & Sea MMII EX w 20 mm lens
Natural History :