Starfish are widely used in crafts or in decorating. They are fascinating creatures that captivate the imagination of all who visit the ocean. Often on Hatteras a Island we find our beaches littered with starfish after storms. When you look closely at this creature of the sea that lives three to five years you begin to realize that it possesses another miracle of nature that mankind has not yet unraveled. This little creature has the God given power to regenerate its body after it has been damaged. Normally the ones we find have five fingers, but there are others species that have 30 or 40 arms. Should one of their fingers get damaged or cut off it can grow back. Many times we find starfish on our beaches that are in the process of growing a finger. Some can even produce a new starfish from a single piece. Think how wonderful it would be if we had the ability to do the same thing. Who knows someday someone might unlock this great secret that would bring joy to millions of people who have lost limbs.
When you turn a dried starfish over you will notice that it is very rough. The roughness is composed of little suction cups that aid it in acquiring its food.
Notice the roughness on the underside of its many fingers.
This helps them grip a clam
They love to make a meal of such things as clams, oysters, and cockles. You would not think that this delicate animal would have the strength to pry open a clam, but they do. They wrap themselves around the mussel shell they have chosen for dinner and pry them open enough to push their stomach inside and digest the tender meat. Many an oyster bed has been destroyed over the years by starfish.
Hatteras Island Starfish Gripping a Cockle Shell
There is one starfish that loves to dine on coral polyps. It is so destructive to the coral reefs throughout the Pacific that our government in 1970 gave a grant of $4,500,000.00 to The Pacific Islands to help control it. See the citation from the Congressional Record.
When you look at the Crown of Thorns Starfish you can see why it was so named.
Crown of Thorns Starfish
Picture of Two Views.
The Crown of Thorns grows to approximately 12 inches and can have as many as 12 to 20 arms. When you look at the front view you can see where it got the name Crown of Thorns. The thorns are very sharp and are like a snake in that they possess venom that can inflict a troublesome wound. Not only has it been responsible for the destruction of coral reefs but limiting number of Triton Trumpet Shells that are available.
As with everything in the ocean even the dreaded Crown of Thorn Starfish has one enemy that likes to eat it. The Triton Trumpet (Charonia tritonis) is the natural enemy of the Crown of Thorns.
Due to the Triton Trumpets importance in helping to keep down the spread of the Crown of Thorns it is protected in many areas from being collected or even being harvested for food.
It is important that the coral reefs be protected for they are the forest of the oceans. It is in these ocean forests just in our land forest that fish and other sea life spawn. Once the coral beds are destroyed much of the life in the ocean will soon disappear. It is because of this that at the Old Gray House we will no longer sell any coral. To continue to sell coral will only encourage others to destroy the coral beds to make a profit. We have no problem with selling empty shells that are used as a food-source for people. Coral is not viewed as food source.
Triton Trumpet eats Crown of Thorns Starfish
When you visit The Old Gray House Shell Shop you will see this display that shows the relationship between these three creatures of the sea.