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 the snorkelers’ 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.
In the Caribbean, the cushion starfish is the most abundant species. Easy to find even at shallow depths, it is possible to encounter 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 sea star, 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 a pretty yellow body and black spines.
Caribbean cushion sea star
Common comet star
Blue spiny starfish
Gray sea star
Horned sea star
Indian Ocean cushion starfish
Pacific cushion starfish
Blunt arm sea star
Granular sea star
Blue sea star
Yellow mesh sea star
Brown mesh sea star
Luzon sea star
Carpet sea star
Galápagos blue sea star
Purple sea star
Sand sea star
Check out our top10 snorkeling spots to see starfish!
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