Ochre sea star

(Pisaster ochraceus)


Ochre sea star IUCN NOT EVALUATED (NE)


Facts about this animal

The length of the ochre sea star ranges from 10 to 25 cm and it has normally five arms. It is predominantly purple coloured but bright orange and almost yellow individuals are also found.

The ochre sea star is more tolerant to air exposure than other sea stars and regularly withstands up to 8 hours exposure during low tides. It is apparently unharmed by up to 50 hours of exposure in laboratory setting, however, they have an inability to tolerate high water temperatures and low oxygen levels, keeping them out of shallow bays and high tidepools.

Spawning occurs in late spring to summer. Fertilization occurs in the sea and development results in free-swimming, plankton-feeding larvae.

Ochre sea stars mainly feed on mussels, but will also feed on barnacles, snails, limpets, and chitons when mussels are absent. They eat by extending their stomach into their prey.

Did you know?
that Ochre sea stars can live for 20 or more years?


Name (Scientific) Pisaster ochraceus
Name (English) Ochre sea star
Name (French) Etoile de mer ocrée
Name (German) Ocker-Seestern
Name (Spanish) Estrella de mar ocre
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
D. Gordon E. Robertson



Range Along the northeastern Pacific coast, from the Baja California to Alaska.
Habitat Intertidal zones on wave-swept rocky shores.
Wild population Unknown, but it's a commonly encountered starfish in it's range.
Zoo population 247 reported to ISIS (2007)

In the Zoo

Ochre sea star


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 51 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
D. Gordon E. Robertson

Why do zoos keep this animal

Zoos and aquariums keep ochre sea stars for educational reasons as part of their efforts to familiarise visitors with invertebrate biodiversity. Sea stars may be kept in touch pools where they will come into close contact with visitors and may play a role as ambassadors for marine and coastal conservation.