Microscopy Primer
Light and Color
Microscope Basics
Special Techniques
Digital Imaging
Confocal Microscopy
Live-Cell Imaging
Microscopy Museum
Virtual Microscopy
Web Resources
License Info
Image Use
Custom Photos
Site Info
Contact Us

The Galleries:

Photo Gallery
Silicon Zoo
Chip Shots
DNA Gallery
Amino Acids
Religion Collection
Cocktail Collection
Screen Savers
Win Wallpaper
Mac Wallpaper
Movie Gallery

Phase Contrast Image Gallery

Starfish Arms

Starfish typically have five arms, or rays, but there are species with as few as three or as many as fifty. Arms occur in a variety of sizes and shapes, depending on the species. The sea bat (Patiria miniata), which is found from Alaska to Mexico, has webbed arms.

Starfish arms are multipurpose appendages, used for feeding, locomotion, smelling, tasting, vision, and reproduction. The bottom of each arm is lined with rows of tube feet that allow it to creep in any direction or cling to steep surfaces. Tube feet are also used for chemoreception (smelling and tasting) and, in primitive species of starfish, for sweeping food into the mouth. Although starfish don't have true vision, they do have an eyespot on the tip of each arm that allows them to distinguish between light and dark. Each arm contains sex organs used for sexual reproduction and in some species each arm, or even a piece of an arm, is capable of regenerating an entirely new starfish.

Starfish, also called sea stars, are perhaps one of the most familiar of marine organisms and are practically a symbol of ocean life. Despite their name, they are echinoderms not fish and breathe through structures on their skin, not through gills.

There are at least 1800 known species of starfish and they occur in all the Earth's oceans (never in freshwater). The greatest variety of species is found in the northern Pacific, from the Puget Sound to the Aleutian Islands. These bottom dwellers play a crucial role in the ocean ecosystem, as prey when they are free-floating larvae and as predator when they reach adulthood. Few animals eat adult starfish, which are apparently neither palatable nor nutritious.


Questions or comments? Send us an email.
© 1998-2022 by Michael W. Davidson and The Florida State University. All Rights Reserved. No images, graphics, scripts, or applets may be reproduced or used in any manner without permission from the copyright holders. Use of this website means you agree to all of the Legal Terms and Conditions set forth by the owners.
This website is maintained by our
Graphics & Web Programming Team
in collaboration with Optical Microscopy at the
National High Magnetic Field Laboratory.
Last modification: Friday, Nov 13, 2015 at 02:19 PM
Access Count Since June 4, 2000: 33216
For more information on microscope manufacturers,
use the buttons below to navigate to their websites: