Northern Pacific seastar sighting (VFA Announcement)
Heading out to Gippsland Lakes? Keep an eye out for Northern Pacific seastars! Seastars in Victoria often suffer a case of mistaken identity. If you’re not sure how to tell an invasive pest from a friendly local, here’s a handy guide below!
Contrary to popular belief, the 11-armed seastar (1) is a friendly native and important for a healthy marine environment. We’re not sure why people assume they’re bad. Perhaps it’s because they look like Queensland’s coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish. The worst starfish is the highly-invasive, but more attractive, Northern Pacific seastar (2). These are the species seen in the Gippsland Lakes. Northern Pacific seastars have a voracious appetite and will eat anything they can catch. They produce millions of eggs and can grow a full body from a single arm!
The good news though is that the native 11-armed seastar can help control numbers of Northern Pacific seastars by eating their young, so the more of these good guys around, the better!
Some people have tried to help by removing Northern Pacific seastars, however to complicate matters further, they can look very similar to other native seastar species (3,4), so unless you really know your marine biology, we suggest leaving them all alone.
Sightings can be reported to email@example.com
Text and images used from VFA Fish eFacts Issue 446