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Several Sea stars lie on a rock wall underwater.

Sea Stars

Who needs a head when you have five arms to work with? Sea stars and their relatives are unique among animals for their five-sided bodies. Five arms radiating from the center of the body allow sea stars to function equally well in all directions. The revolutionary experiment in body design 500 million years ago was so successful that this spiny-skinned group never went on to evolve heads, tails, eyes, or even brains.

A 5 armed sea star lays on a large rock.

Many arms of care

How do you examine a sea star's arm more than once when their arms are identical? There's no particular right, left, up or down, so taking X-rays, diagnosing, drawing samples, or performing surgery is a bit tricky! Shedd's animal care team figured out a way to orient the many arms of these invertebrates, based on their anatomy, to properly care for them.

What does a sea star look like when it's feeding? Watch this time-lapsed video to find out!

“Meeting a sea star in Sea Star Touch is such a wonderful experience, as something so alien looking actually senses, eats, interacts, moves just as we do. ”

George Parsons, senior curator

Crown-of-Thorns Sea Star

Ochre Sea Star

Bat Sea Star

Chocolate Chip Sea Star