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Common sunstar


35 centimeters in diameter


variable: orange, red, yellow, pink, purple with lovely patterns


11 to 20 years


mollusc, bryozoan, sea cucumbers, sea anemones, starfish



  • Dut: Zonnester
  • Lat: Crossaster papposus
  • Eng: Common sunstar
  • Ger: Sonnenstern
  • Dan: Piggede søsol
Common sun star, Ecomare

Common sunstar

The common sunstar is named after the fact that it looks like a sun with its 8 to 14 arms. Its colorful, sunny appearance makes you think it has a nice character, but nothing is farther from the truth. It is a fearsome predator, which scares the daylights out of common starfish and other smaller marine animals. The common sunstar is quite fast for a starfish, reaching top speeds of 70 centimeters per minute. There are films where you see how brittle stars and sea urchins run away as soon as a sunstar is in the vicinity. If they are not fast enough, they are inevitably consumed.

  • Distribution and habitat
    Sun star, foto fitis, sytske dijksen

    Sunstars can be found in shallow water but also as deep as 1200 meters. They are rare in the southern North Sea; they normally live in the northern North Sea. You won't find them in the Wadden Sea or delta waters.