Sand Star

  • Scientific name: Astropecten irregularis
  • Size: Grows to around 15 – 20cm.
  • Distribution: Found around most of the UK, although more common in the north.

The sand star is a starfish species found across soft seabeds around most of the UK. They have a rigid body with five well-developed arms which have a row of spines running along the edges. They are usually light brown, yellow or pink in colour. They can be found at a range of water depths, being found in the intertidal zone down to depths of several hundred metres.

Sand stars are so-called because they live over seabeds consisting of mud, sand or fine shingle. This species buries itself into the seabed during daylight and then emerges when the sun begins to set to hunt for food. The sand star will move around and find shellfish such as cockles, winkles and mussels which have been dislodged from their homes on rocks. The sand star uses its powerful arms to prise the shells and feed on the flesh inside.