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Little red bloodstar starfish on kelp in Washington state's Salt Creek County Park
Henricia leviuscula, commonly called the Pacific blood star, is a species of starfish found along the Pacific coast of North America. They can usually be identified by their bright orange-red color, but there can also be many variations from tan to almost purple. The disk can be a mottled gray color. There can also be a saddle-like marking of lilac blotches between the rays, but the rays are not mottled. They commonly have 5 rays (occasionally 4�6). The rays are slender and appear smooth due to the lack of pedicellariae and spines. The species is relatively small; the diameter is usually over 8 cm and rarely gets larger than 12 cm. As with all seastars the blood star has a madreporite. The madreporite is a lightcolored calcerous opening used to filter water into the water vascular system of echinoderms. It acts like a pressure-equalizing valve. It is visible as a small red or yellow button-like structure, looking like a small wart, on the aboral surface of the central disk of a sea star. Close up, it is visibly structured, resembling a "madrepore" (stone coral, Scleractinia) colony. From this, it derives its name.
December 10th, 2011
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