Leather Star

Leather Star (Dermasterias imbricata) as seen in our Coastal Waters exhibit.

Leather stars usually have five wide arms surrounding a large, high disc. Their upper surface is blue-gray, mottled with red and orange. The star’s texture is smooth and slippery to the touch, somewhat like wet leather. This animal feeds largely on sea anemones, California Stichopus (more commonly known as sea cucumbers) and Purple Sea Urchins. Occasionally they may eat sponges, hydroids, sea pens and other invertebrates. Unlike many other sea stars, Leather Stars swallow their prey whole and digest it internally. When touched by a Leather Star, some of their prey animals will detach themselves from the substrate and swim away. They are related to other sea stars, sea urchins and sand dollars.

Range & Habitat

Leather Stars are found from Prince William Sound, Alaska to San Diego, California. They live on rocky shores and in clean harbors on pilings and sea walls. They prefer the very low intertidal and shallow subtidal zones to 300 feet (91 m).

Conservation Status