Starfish are not actually a fish – nor are they stars ……. Still, there are a lot of inaccurate names around in the animal kingdom and this is just another to add to your list.
Starfish belong to the Phylum Echinodermata, and are further divided into two classes Asteroidea(sea stars) and Ophiuroidea(brittle stars). They are voracious predators feeding primarily on molluscs and other echinoderms.
Here is more than you will ever need to know about the sex life of the starfish. You may find some of the following totally baffling – but there we go – just be thankful that you are not a zoologist. And if you are a zoologist let this be a lesson to you.
Most species of starfish shed their millions of eggs and sperm freely into the water, so fertilization is somewhat haphazard. The minute chance of fertilization is compensated by the enormous numbers of eggs and sperm cells shed. After fertilization, a hollow ball develops, called the blastula (!). The cells of the blastula possess cilia(!) on the outside for swimming. After one day a deep groove develops, leading to the gastrula (!). The gastrulas of all types of echinoderms are very similar. But then differentiation starts (blimey, does it?). The common starfish develops a bipinnaria larva (whoopee!), with ciliated bands running about the periphery. After several weeks the bipinnaria larva takes on a more elaborate form, with longer projecting arms and after some more weeks, a brachiolaria larva (way-hay) is formed. The larvae have their own gut, with inside cilia to inhale and transport food particles (yuk).They feed themselves with diatoms and other organisms in the plankton. The stomach is large and round and situated at the back side (now there's food for thought). After this phase a large part of the larva degenerates and at the rear side a rudimentary juvenile starfish develops and the organs of the young starfish are formed.
The best way to preserve a starfish is to soak it in 70% isopropyl alcohol overnight and then let it dry out. You might also want to weigh down the legs so that it does not curl up as it dries. Alternatively you might like to leave it in the sea to carry on doing what starfishes do and buy this nice little dish instead.
We at Cybergrot strongly recommend the latter course of action.
This delightful little dish measures about 4½ inches across and has WADE Made in Ireland stamped on its bottom – or – let us correct ourselves – somewhere near its stomach.