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The starfish is part of the Asteroidea class of invertebrates and is one of the most famous and iconic animals in the animal kingdom. Generally its body is divided into five parts (but it can reach up to 50 as in the case of the Antarctic star Labidiaster annulatus) which are very similar to each other and arranged concentrically around the central axis. Behind its cute and harmless appearance lies one of the most voracious predators in the sea, greedy for bivalves, gastropods, barnacles and various other invertebrates, as well as mussels and molluscs.

One of the most surprising characteristics of this invertebrate is its ability to regenerate: this applies both to a single limb, which is made to regrow, and to the entire body, which in some cases can also be “recreated” starting from a only one end remained active. By observing them more carefully it is also possible to notice hundreds of small extensions equipped with suction cups which, thanks to the typical hydraulic system of echinoderms, allow the creature to move along the seabed, to perceive light and darkness as well as allowing the identification of potential victims or predators .

Starfish, like many other organisms often little taken into consideration, help keep the ecosystem in perfect balance. Their survival is in fact fundamental for the existence of other species and without them the ecosystem would be completely different or, in some cases, would cease to exist altogether.

Montebello21 ✓ Alert It is important to remember that according to Article 544 ter of the Criminal Code “Whoever, cruelly or unnecessarily, causes injury to an animal by subjecting it to torture, behavior, fatigue or work that is unbearable due to its ethological characteristics will be punished with imprisonment from three to eighteen months or with a fine of between 5,000 and 30,000 euros”.

What to do?

Starfishes Do not touch or hold them: starfish have a substance on their bodies that allows them to breathe and which could be irreparably altered by contact with our hands, causing overheating and dehydration;

Starfishes Do not take them out of the water: the channels that cross their body can be blocked by air bubbles which could cause death from embolism, even after many days;

Starfishes Make them safe: if you happen to find them near the shore or in an area very frequented by swimmers, move them to a quieter area using a net, taking care to always keep them in the water;

Starfishes Tell their story: explain to curious adults and children how fragile this organism is and how much it needs our attention and respect.

La Maddalena