Common Starfish Predators

Starfish are echinoderms.
Starfish are echinoderms. (Image: Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Starfish are echinoderms that inhabit deep waters. Their predators frequently find them on rocks or around coral reefs. Even though they have no brain, starfish can move by using hundreds of feet found on their underside. However, starfish do not always move quickly enough to escape faster-moving predators. The starfish's ability to regrow their arms if they are mauled or eaten allows them to survive some predator attacks.


Although sharks are not picky eaters, not all species of shark eat starfish. Bottom-dwelling species such as horn sharks, nurse sharks and Port Jackson have the best access to starfish. Starfish move much more slowly than sharks, making them easy prey. The horn shark uses its front teeth to grab the starfish, then crushes it with the back before swallowing. Port Jackson sharks scoop starfish into their mouths, then grind it with back teeth.

Manta Rays

Manta rays feed near coral reefs where starfish reside. The Manta ray eats starfish while swimming, swallowing water and prey at the same time. Plates in the ray's mouth located near its gills trap the starfish, then the ray pushes water out through its gills. Once the water is gone, the ray pushes the starfish into its stomach, swallowing it whole.

Alaskan King Crabs

All three members of the Alaskan King Crab family, Blue, Red and Golden crabs, eat starfish. These crabs come in contact with starfish when they return to deep waters each spring. The Alaskan crab latches on to to the starfish with its nippers. It then uses its nippers to tear the starfish into smaller pieces. The crab places the small pieces into its mouth and swallows them.


Starfish also eat other starfish. Some starfish follow scent trails to locate meals, while others find food by touch. Once they find prey, starfish wrap their arms around it tightly. It then pushes its stomach out through its mouth and against its prey. When the starfish sucks its stomach back in, the prey is also sucked in.

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