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Patiria miniata - Bat star

Geographic range:
itka, Alaska to Isla Cedros, Baja California, Mexico

Key features:

Similar species:
Mediaster aequalis -- Red sea star

bay (rocky shore), bay (sandy shore), Continental shelf, exposed rocky shore, exposed sandy beaches, kelp forest, protected rocky shore, protected sandy beaches
Patiria miniata - Bat star image


Primary common name:
Bat star
  ITIS code:
Synonymous name(s):
Asterina miniata
General grouping:
Sea stars, urchins, cucumbers, sand dollars, brittle stars

Geographic Range
Range description:
Asterina miniata occurs from Sitka, Alaska to Isla Cedros, Baja California.
Northern latitude extent:
  Southern latitude extent:
East longitude extent:
  West longitude extent:

Intertidal Height
Lowest intertidal height:
0 meters OR -2 feet
  Highest intertidal height:
0.90090090 meters OR 3 feet
Intertidal height notes:
Patiria miniata occurs from the low intertidal to about 293 meters.

Subtidal Depth Range
Minimum depth:
0 meters OR 0 feet
  Maximum depth:
293 meters OR 975.69 feet
Subtidal depth notes:

bay (rocky shore), bay (sandy shore), Continental shelf, exposed rocky shore, exposed sandy beaches, kelp forest, protected rocky shore, protected sandy beaches
Habitat notes:
Patiria miniata lives on rocks, among surfgrass, and on rock and sand bottoms as well as on wharf pilings.

Relative abundance:
Patiria miniata is the most abundant sea star on the West Coast. It is a common resident of protected-rock habitats, in the low intertidal and in kelp forests.

Species Description
General description:
Patiria miniata belongs to the Phylum Echinodermata and the Class Stelleroidea. All echinoderms exhibit fivefold radial symmetry in portions of their body at some stage of life.
Distinctive features:
Patiria miniata varies greatly in pattern and color from yellow to red to purple. This sea star usually has five, but sometimes four to nine broad short arms. Patiria miniata lacks spines or pedicellariae.
Patiria miniata can grow to a diameter of about 20 cm.

Natural History
General natural history:
Patiria miniata possess a hydraulic water vascular system, a network of fluid-filled canals that function in locomotion, feeding, and gas exchange. They also possess an open and reduced circulatory system, and have a complete digestive tube (tubular gut). They also have a mesodermal endoskeleton made of tiny calcified plates and spines, that forms a rigid support contained within tissues of the organism.

Time-lapse photography of Patiria miniata has shown that the animals slowly but surely tear about in a dynamic social interaction that we, living at our much faster tempto, could not otherwise imagine. Patiria miniata has a commensal polychaete, Ophiodromus pugettensis, that can be found on the oral surface.
Patiria miniata feeds on a variety of dead or alive plant and animal matter, that may include drift algae, tube worms, and solitary corals.

Feeding behavior
Feeding behavior(s):
Omnivore, Scavenger
Feeding behavior notes:
Patiria miniata feeds by extending its stomach over its food item. Patiria miniata is known to exhibit aggressive behavior toward one another, usually when food gathering.
January - December  
During spawning, female Patiria miniata emit flocculent material from pores near the bases of their arms and males appear to be "smoking" as they release sperm. Spawning is believed to be initiated by phytoplankton blooms which assure food for the larvae. Patiria miniata respond to chemicals coincident with these favorable conditions. In general, Patiria miniata has an usually long breeding period and will discharge their ripe sperm and eggs at almost any time of the year, especially during the late winter and spring.
Gotshall, D. 2005. Guide to marine invertebrates : Alaska to Baja California. Sea Challengers, Monterey, CA. 117 p.

Langstroth, L. and L. Langstroth. 2000. A Living Bay: The Underwater World of Monterey Bay. University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA. 287 p.

Meinkoth, N.A. 1998. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Seashore Creatures. A.A. Knopf, New York, NY. 813 p.

Ricketts, E. F., J. Calvin, and J.W. Hedgpeth. 1985. Between Pacific tides. Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA. 652 p.

Wobber, D.R. 1975. Agonism in asteroids. Biological Bulletin 148: 483-496.

Data supplied by SIMoN Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network
Anthopleura xanthogrammica - Giant green anemone

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