How to Handle Starfish

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Handle a delicate starfish with extreme care.
Handle a delicate starfish with extreme care. (Image: Photos.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Starfish, also known as sea stars, are a marine dwelling echinoderm that can be found on beaches and tide pools throughout the world. According to National Geographic, there are over 2,000 species of this creature, but they all share a common appearance consisting of boney and brittle calcified skin. If you find a starfish, alive or dead, you should handle it with care so not to break or injure the oftentimes fragile arms that make up most of the sea star.

Things You'll Need

  • Small aquarium or cooler
  • Salt water

Handling Living Starfish

Pick up the starfish gently and avoid breaking or bending its arms, which can be quite small and fragile on some species. Starfish are known for their regeneration abilities, but you should always handle them with extreme caution to minimize any damage.

Wrap the starfish in a moist towel or place in a portable marine environment (any container filled with seawater) if it is alive and you intend to transport it to an alternative location. According to It’s Nature, starfish breathe through small tubes all over their bodies, so they need to be fully submerged in water to thrive.

Place the sea star back into the water if you find it on the beach and have no intention on relocating the specimen. Starfish do best in shallow tide pools and aquatic environments with rocky or coral based bottoms where they have access to food and shelter from predators.

Handling Dead Starfish

Handle the dried starfish with gentle care as you would do for a live specimen. The brittle material that composes the echinoderm becomes even more fragile when it has been exposed to the open air and dried.

Allow the starfish to continue to sit out and dry in the sun at a safe location if you intend to keep it as a beach keepsake. It is imperative that the specimen is fully dried so it does not rot and stink up your home.

Wrap the starfish carefully in tissue paper or bubble wrapping material if you intend to transport it long distances.

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