Visit a rocky beach at low tide and search for this colorful predator — the Purple Sea Star. This animal's 5 arms can measure over a foot from tip to tip. You'll find it holding tightly to rocks, but don't try to pull the star off. You'll damage the hundreds of little suction tubes it uses to move and to grip its prey.
The beautiful Purple Star is a predator. When the tide is in, the star attacks shellfish such as mussels, using those little suction tubes to pry their shells open just a crack. Then the star pushes its stomach out of its body and through this crack to digest the mussel's organs. The Purple Sea Star hunts between high and low tide where many species live. Some prey can detect the star's approach and move away. Others, fixed in place like mussels, may not last long should they settle in the sea star's realm. Through its predatory pressure, Purple Sea Stars shape the intertidal community in which they live.
Enjoy watching this beautiful creature and leave it where it is to play its important role in the ecology of Puget Sound.