The Horned Sea Star, also known as the Chocolate Chip Sea Star, is a special kind of starfish. It’s called Protoreaster nodosus by scientists.
You can find Horned Sea Star in the warm, shallow waters of the Indo-Pacific. Sometimes people keep them in marine aquariums. Or, they dry them out and sell them.
What Does the Horned Sea Star Look Like?
The Horned Sea Star has a unique look. It has rows of black, cone-shaped points on its back. These points look like scary horns. They help to scare away animals that might want to eat the sea star.
Underneath, Horned Sea Star has feet that look like tubes. They can be purple or pale, see-through pink. They are lined up in rows on each of its arms.
How Big Is the Horned Sea Star?
Most of the time, the Horned Sea Star has five arms. But some have four or six. It can grow to be as big as 12 inches across. That’s about the same size as a ruler!
What Color Is the Horned Sea Star?
The Horned Sea Star can be of many colors. Some are shades of red or brown. Others can be light tan, like cookie dough.
This, with the small horns on its back, makes the Horned Sea Star look like a bumpy cookie.
Where Does the Horned Sea Star Live?
The Horned Sea Star likes to live in sheltered places. It prefers sandy or slightly muddy bottoms to hard places like coral reefs.
You can often see Horned Sea Stars between the leaves of seagrasses or on stretches of coral sand. Sometimes, you can even see them when the tide is low.
How Does the Horned Sea Star Behave?
The Horned Sea Star doesn’t like sudden changes. That’s why it usually stays underwater.
Sometimes, lots of Horned Sea Stars gather on soft bottoms. Scientists think this might be to help them breed or find food.
What Does the Horned Sea Star Eat?
The Horned Sea Star will eat just about anything it can find.
In aquariums, Horned Sea Star’s known to eat hard corals and sponges. It will even hunt down and eat snails. One has been seen eating a sea urchin in the wild.
What Animals Live with The Horned Sea Star?
Shrimp, tiny brittle stars, and even young filefish can live with Horned Sea Star on its surface.
This is because few animals dare to eat this sea star, so it’s safe for these animals.
What Are the Threats to The Horned Sea Star?
The threats to Horned Sea Star are:
- Overharvesting: In many places where the Horned Sea Star lives, people collect them to sell. This has greatly reduced their numbers.
- Related Species: A species that is close to the Horned Sea Star, called the Atlantic Oreaster reticulatus or Bahama Sea Star, is also being overharvested. Its numbers have gone down because of the shell trade and tourists.
Horned Sea Star Characteristics
|Care Level:||Somewhat Moderate|
|Maximum Size:||30 cm (11.8 in)|