Starfish species identification guide


A star-shape invertebrate, symbol of the seas and oceans

Starfish (or sea stars) are one of the symbols of the oceans. There are about 1500 species of starfish, which occurs in all the seas and oceans of the world. Their star-shaped body (typically with 5 arms, but sometimes more) and their bright colors make them one of snorkeler’s favorite sightings. Most starfish are totally harmless, but learn to identify the crown-of-thorns starfish. These colored stars with 10 to 20 arms proliferate periodically in the Indo-Pacific, where they are a voracious predator of coral. In addition, they are very venomous and you have to absolutely avoid touching them.

Starfish populations range

In the Caribbean, the cushion starfish is the most abundant species. Easy to observe even at shallow depths, it is possible to meet hundreds of them at some spots, forming real “carpets” on the sand. The horned starfish is common in Southeast Asia, particularly in the Coral Triangle shallow seagrass beds. Throughout the Indo-Pacific, you cannot miss the blue starfish, solitary but very common on shallow flats, sometimes even a few meters from beaches. In the Mediterranean, the red starfish is easy to find, its bright red color contrasting with the dark rocky bottoms. If you visit the Galápagos Islands, you’ll easily see two nice species there: the Galápagos starfish and the chocolate starfish, with pretty yellow body and black spines.

Caribbean & Western Atlantic Ocean starfish

Indian & Pacific Oceans starfish

Eastern Pacific Ocean starfish

Mediterranean & Eastern Atlantic Ocean starfish

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Marine life ID guide

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fish-id-guides

Have a look at the best identification fish guides to learn more about marine life!

Want to learn more about the species you observed or photographed under water? The identification guides are true treasures for those curious to know about the undersea world! These books show, in the form of images or drawings, the species of certain environments (such as coral reefs) or certain regions of the world (such as the Mediterranean, the Caribbean or the Red Sea). If some guides are limited to fish, others describe all the local underwater fauna and flora. True scientific works, the identification guides are also a beautiful way to prepare for our future snorkeling explorations!