Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Don't underestimate a cranky Slime Star

When we collect animals for our tanks, we often have to rearrange the animals we already have to find everyone the perfect home.  Usually we don't get much protest to being moved, but this year our baby slime star fought back aggressively against its new home. 

We decided to move it from its home in a wall tank to the smaller jewel tank so visitors could easily admire it.  The baby slime star's new tank mate was a baby Puget Sound King Crab and we thought they would get along fine.  As Jess, Heather, Valerie and I were finding homes for other new critters, we noticed that the baby slime star was floating off the gravel!  On closer inspection, we could see that it had started to slime.  We kept an eye on the tank, but continued to deal with the other animals, assuming it would calm down.

The baby slime star after the "slimy ordeal"

We had our backs to the jewel tank, when all of a sudden Jess and I heard water falling onto the floor.  We turned around to see the jewel tank flooding and water pouring over the top and onto the floor.  The baby slime star did not like its new home and tank mate!  We discovered that the slime star had produced enough slime to block the water outflow tube and flood the tank.  We quickly pulled the star out of the tank and placed it in a tub for it to calm down and stop sliming. 

Check out this video of the amount of slime produced by this small star!

Because of this tantrum, we ended up putting the baby slime star back where it had started, in the small wall tank, where it is happy and hasn't slimed since.

The slime star, or Pteraster tesselatus, has short stubby legs and cran grow up to 24 cm across.  It can release A LOT of slime for protection against predators.  It can be found from the Bering Sea to Monterey Bay, California.  Its slime can be toxic to animals that are submersed in it for 24 hours!

Come check out our slime stars (we have two!) and all our other animals, Friday-Sunday 12-4pm.

Julia Ledbetter
Marine Exhibit Education Coordinator

1 comment:

  1. How cool is that!?!?!? That that little defenseless marine invertebrate could shut down the whole system just 'cause she didn't like the new digs! She's my hero.



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