Physical Description

  • Seastar with five wide pointed arms surrounding a large, high disc.
  • Blue-gray coloration, with red and orange mottling.
  • Smooth and slippery texture, covered in slime, which makes animal feel like wet leather.
  • Can be up to 10 inches in diameter.


  • Prince William Sound, Alaska to northern Baja California, Mexico.


  • Live in rocky shores and tide pools.
  • Live in clean harbors on pilings and sea walls.
  • Found from 0 to 300 feet depths.


  • In Washington, spawning is from April to August.
  • Reproduction is via broadcast spawning, where eggs and sperm are released into the water.
  • The fertilized eggs become swimming larvae before transforming into sea stars that settle on the bottom.


  • Sea anemones, California sea cucumber, purple sea urchin, sponges, hydroids, sea pens, sea vase tunicates, bryozoans, and other invertebrates.


  • Morning sun stars eat them.
  • Slimy texture detracts many predators.
  • The leather star also exudes a garlic-like smell that also repels predators! 

Interesting Facts

  • Unlike many other sea stars, leather stars swallow their prey whole and digest it internally.
  • Unlike most other animals, sea stars do not have blood but instead use sea water to pump oxygen around their bodies.

Sources: Oregon Coast Aquarium; Tennessee Aquarium;;; Oak Bay Marine; Walla Walla University

Photo: Herb Gruenhagen