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Bat Star Patiria miniata


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Bat Stars
credit: Claire Fackler

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Category: Seastars and relatives view all from this category

Description The Bat star (Asterina miniata), also known as Sea bat, Webbed star and Broad-disk star, is an echinoderm of class Asteroidea (commonly known as sea stars). It typically has five arms or starms, with the center disk of the animal being much wider than the stubby arms are in length. Although the bat star usually has five arms, it sometimes has as many as nine. Bat stars occur in many of colors, including green, purple, red, orange, yellow and brown, either mottled or solid. The bat star gets its name from the webbing between its arms, which is said to resemble a bat's wings.

The bat star is usually found in the intertidal zone at an average depth of 79 metres (259 ft). Its range extends from Sitka, Alaska to Baja California in the Pacific Ocean. It is most abundant along the coast of Central California and the Monterey Bay.

The bat star breathes through gill-like structures on its back that perform as respirators. It lacks the pincers or pedicellariae that most starfish use to clean the skin surface of debris, but its small, moving hairs or cilia may create enough of a water current to keep the surface of its skin clean. It has visual sensors at the end of each ray that can detect light and note prey. To eat its prey, it covers the prey with its stomach and oozes digestive juices over it; this liquefies the food, enabling the bat star to ingest it. It is omnivorous, eating both plants and animals alive or dead.

Habitat Rocks, Ocean or bay shallows.

Range Alaska, California, Northwest, Western Canada.