The starfish, like the sea urchin, is an echinoderm. Although this animal is commonly known as the starfish, this echinoderm is not a fish at all. Scientists have been hard at work trying to get people to call them sea stars instead.
Unlike the sea urchin, which is a delicacy in many cultures, starfish are rarely used as food. This is despite the fact that over 2000 species of starfish exist and that they are abundant. While the sea star may not be a popular food item, the starfish is sometimes eaten in China, Japan and Micronesia. For the most part, however, sea stars are not eaten as many of them are toxic.
Predators of the sea star include: crabs, lobsters, bottom dwelling fish, other sea stars and seagulls. When a predator grabs hold of the sea star’s arm, the sea star can detach or let go of it to get away. Similar to the lizard and the salamander, the sea star is able to regenerate what it has lost. While some species do eat sea stars, it appears they are not a preferred food of choice by most other animals.
The sea star is a keystone species. It is their relatively large size, diverse diet and ability to adapt to different environments that has rendered it ecologically important. They typically have a central disc and five arms. Some species, however, have a larger number of arms. The upper surface of a starfish may be smooth, granular or spiny and they are usually covered with overlapping plates.
There is an old Aboriginal story about the starfish. It tells how some animals needed a canoe to cross the ocean and get to the other side of the shore. The whale had one but wouldn’t lend it. The starfish, who knew that the whale was hoarding his resources, kept him busy by telling him stories and grooming him. While the starfish distracted him, others stole the canoe. When the whale realised that he had been tricked, he beat the starfish ragged. This is how the starfish came to be.
If you dream of a starfish, it portents that you will have better days ahead. You should move forward confidently in life as you pursue what will truly make you happy. The starfish may walk in a funny manner, but walk it does… to the other side of the shore.