Starfish, a marine splendor
The ocean is the home of unique animals and plants, however, they are threatened every day.
One of the inhabitants that can be found in this great space, is the starfish, a marine invertebrate that is an echinoderm belonging to class Asteroidea the same as (sea urchins, brittel star, flamingo tongue, crownof- thorns starfish and brown sea cucumber)
These invertebrates move through the sea floor and can be found all over the oceans, cold and tropical environments, deep waters and coasts. They can only live at the sea and not in fresh water.
Definitely, the sea is like a treasure of knowledge that makes ocean lovers to have an unlimited passion for it. For marine biologist, Omar Shamir Reynoso, "the sea is the incentive for change that drives the economy and humans life." When he was asked about the importance of the starfish in our habitat, he said that: "echinoderms play a very important role in the ecosystem, oxygenating the sand. These animals are the basic diet of a group of marine organisms, making them essential elements in the food chain of our seas and oceans. "
In Punta Cana, at the east of the country, the star Oreaster reticulatus, also known as red cushion sea star, is one of the most common species. “The taxonomy reports an amount for the Caribbean that includes 433 species, 237 genus, 80 families, 29 orders and 5 classes”.
Due to its characteristics and incredible beauty, the starfish invite ocean lovers to venture into scuba diving so as to enjoy its intensity. The Dominican Republic has the special peculiarity that during the whole year people can spend a good time at the sea and discover the secrets of the evolution of life in the depths.
Starfish usually have 5 arms in relation to their pentameter symmetry, but there are species that have more and some may have 50 of them, such as Labidiaster annalatus or Antarctic starfish. The arms, that can be short or long, come from the body central disc and the mouth is underneath it. They have a calcified skin that can be smooth, granular or prickly, protecting them from predators. As an unbelievable peculiarity, they are capable of re-growing when they lose one of their arms. They have primitive eyes at the tips of their arms that permit them to visually trace its environment.
Starfish can be carnivorous, herbivorous and detritus feeder. Carnivores feed on mollusks (clams, oysters, mussels and sea snails), sea sponges, sea anemones, sea urchins, small fish, worms, plankton, organic particles in suspension and even other starfish. While the detritus species feed on decomposed animals and plants or organic sheets attached to substrates. Another one of its distinctive feature is that they can spit out their stomach when its prey is too big.
Threats to Starfish
Marine biologist, Omar Shamir Reynoso, argues that: "Starfish take oxygen from the water to breathe through the process carried out by these gills in the skin and when these species are removed from the sea, they can’t perform gas exchange, increasing the risk of carbon dioxide or monoxide poisoning, so they die in a short period of time, it means they drown in 3 to 5 minutes”.
A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE
- There are about 1,500 to 2,000 species.
- Their bright colors ranging from red, orange, blue, gray or brown, work as a camouflage and scare tactics.
- The reproduction is both sexually and asexually.
- Starfish, instead of blood, have a water vascular system that pumps water.
- They are vulnerable to degenerative diseases caused by bacteria of the genus Vibrio and high temperatures.
- Like all marine animals, starfish are organisms that live in the sea: they do not breathe the air, so when they remove it from the water, they die.
Tags: Fauna and Flora