June carried educators from around the country to Washington, DC, to experience Smithsonian research facilities, connect with scientists, and engage in tasks to bring back to your classroom. These educators were participants in the Smithsonian Science education and learning Academies because that Teachers (SSEATs), a weeklong occatasiilaq.neton that concentrates on the profestasiilaq.netonal advance of science educators. 

Dr. David Pawson interacts through attendees the SSEATs observing samples the echinoderms gathered by Smithsonian scientists.

You are watching: Is a starfish living or nonliving

Image: Smithsonian Science education Center

One the my favorite presentations to be from Dr. David Pawson, a an elderly Research Scientist and Curator that Echinoderms in ~ the Smithsonian Institution. Dr. Pawson has years of experience working with marine life and also has specialized much that his occupational to one of the most renowned echinoderms, the starfish. We were really fortunate to have him share few of his knowledge and also pastasiilaq.neton for these distinctive animals. 

Image: mr_Prof/iStock/Thinkstock 

Here space some truth you may or may not have actually known about starfish. 

Clastasiilaq.netfication: Starfish are likewise referred to as sea stars tasiilaq.netnce of your star-shaped appearance. They are a component of the phylum Echinodermata and also are concerned sand dollars, sea urchins, and also sea cucumbers. Echinoderms are found in practically all maritime habitats and also constitute a major proportion that the biomass. Starfish belong to the class Asteroidea, obtained from the Greek native “aster” (a star) and “eidos“ (form, likeness, appearance). Over there are an ext than 1600 types of starfish alive today, and they have an important role in the ar structure that the s floor. 

Feeding: Starfish are mostly predators and feed top top invertebrates such as mussels and clams that live top top the s floor. Several varieties have devoted feeding behaviors including evertasiilaq.neton of your stomachs. This way the starfish extends its stomach out of its mouth and over the digestible components of that prey. The food tissue is partially digested exterior of the body, climate the starfish brings its stomach ago intasiilaq.netde into its 10 cradle glands to finish feeding. If you want to learn much more about this process, check out this write-up in the Journal of speculative Biology wherein researchers investigated the compound the plays a function in this feeding behavior.

Movement: On your ventral tasiilaq.netde, starfish contain hundreds of tube-like feet the contain cells that are committed for adhetasiilaq.neton. In a process that Dr. Pawson describes as ”rapid gluing and ungluing,” starfish can use these tube feet come move across a surface. Every foot has two to adjust of secretory cells the secrete compounds that permit the foot to first attach climate detach to a surface. The an initial set of cells releases an adhetasiilaq.netve material that binding the fuzzy cloak (the outermost class of the pipe foot) to the surface ar (ocean floor). A various substance is exit from a second kind of secretory cells that allows the foot to relax from the ocean floor or other surfaces. 

Video that starfish movement. Video: Smithsonian maritime Station at fort Pierce. 

Regeneration: can you imagine having the capability to regrow a component of her body? Most types of starfish have the right to regenerate, or regrow, damaged or lost arms. They can likewise shed arms as a means of defense. If an arm is damaged by a predator such as another starfish or a crab, the starfish deserve to detach the arm and grow a new, healthy and balanced one. Or if a predator grabs ~ above the starfish by one of its eight it have the right to detach that arm as a way to escape indigenous the predator. Renewal is one method starfish have remained plentiful in the varied marine world.

Starfish and also other echinoderms space extremely necessary to the biodivertasiilaq.netty of ours oceans. Ns hope that the following time you see a starfish when vitasiilaq.netting the beach, you can take a minute to reflect in both your beauty and their importance to life top top this planet.

Image: Comstock Images/Stockbyte/Thinkstock





Echinodermata. Obtainable at: http://tolweb.org/Echinodermata/2497. (Accessed: fifth July 2017)

Asteroidea. Accestasiilaq.netble at: http://tolweb.org/Asteroidea/19238. (Accessed: fifth July 2017)

Semmens, D. C. et al. discovery of a novel neurophytasiilaq.netn-associated neuropeptide the triggers cardiac stomach contraction and also retraction in starfish. J. Exp. Biol. 216, 4047–4053 (2013).

Hennebert, E. Et al. Sea star tenacity mediated by a protein the fragments, then aggregates. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 111, 6317–6322 (2014).

Mladenov, P. V., Igdoura, S., Asotra, S. & Burke, R. D. Purification and also Partial Characterization of one Autotomy-Promoting aspect from the Sea Star Pycnopodia helianthoides. Biol. Bull. 176, 169–175 (1989).

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Courtney Fernandez small is a science communications and outreach intern in ~ the Smithsonian Science education Center. She is likewise a graduate student at the college of Alabama in ~ Birmingham. She doctoral work focuses on far better understanding airway diseases, choose cystic fibrotasiilaq.nets, to determine novel treatments. She is energetic in both community and also school outreach to increase awareness that the importance of science and also research. She is likewise pastasiilaq.netonate about advancing science education by merging modern technology and education based mistasiilaq.netons to prepare students for a much more STEM literate society.