Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Our Lucky Star

When Animal Caretaker Katie Malmberg got the radio call, she knew something was a little different.

“A guest handed me something at the tide pool. I think you should see it”. The message told her to expect something odd, but she was not prepared for what she saw.

It was a sea star! A small mottled star, Evasterias, found by the guest on a sidewalk near Pacific Science Center. By itself, that was surprising and disturbing, but the bigger mystery was, it did not appear to be from our tide pool touch tank.

Animal Care keeps photos of all our sea stars, a practice we began when we first became concerned with Sea Star Wasting Disorder. We want to know which individual animal we are talking about in case anything happens to one of them.

As far as we can surmise, this star was not taken out of the tide pool and later dropped on the sidewalk by an absent-minded guest. Instead we believe, it may have been lifted from the beach by an overly ambitious gull. Sea stars are not a large portion of the diet of gulls, but a quick Internet search for images of “gulls eating starfish” reveals that they do sometimes try and the stars are hard to swallow. Perhaps our star was grabbed and carried by its captor to a safe feeling place, where the bird intended to finish swallowing it. Or it turned out to be too big. Or perhaps a more tempting morsel appeared and the gull flew off, leaving the stranded star to dry up in the sun.

Lucky for the star, someone found it.

The star is currently in our quarantine area. Between the trauma of being transported in such a way, and the chances of it succumbing to wasting disorder, its prognosis is still guarded. And though its fate is still up in the air, at least it is now back in the water.


  1. Can you tell us more about how the quarantine works?

  2. Very interesting! Keep us updated on its progress, please!

  3. Update altert - we will answer both of your questions shortly. And *spoilers* - bring a hanky.