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  • Christopher Stephens, MSc

The Garlic Starfish Phenomenon

Leather Stars Smell of Garlic & Range from Alaska to Mexico


One of the most curious marine creatures of the Eastern Pacific Ocean, along the West coast of North America is the Leather Star Dermasterias imbricata, occuring at depths of up to 328 feet where it feeds on a wide range of marine invertebrates as a fearsome predator.


This hunter grows up to 12 inches across and may look less than remarkable as it makes its home preferably in rocky and sometimes sandy seabed environments. Slimy and glistening when discovered, the ordinary looking, fairly drab brown and rust colored Leather star is a wildly fascinating animal for olfactory reasons. It smells more like a slightly overcooked and over-spiced garlic flavored dinner! The smell of burned sulfur and garlic that ends up all over one's hands is sure to be remembered if you handle this unique sea star!


When not grazing on algae, the omnivorous sea star may even take on seemingly impossible sea urchin meals. Additional items on the menu include sea cucumbers and tunicates. The tables turn, however when Morning sun stars are on the prowl. In some cases, escape is impossible. The odds are good for a hungry sun star as a full 50 percent of Morning sun star meals consist of unlucky Leather stars.


First discovered by a scientist from Germany in 1857, this garlic scented sea animal is a deceptively typical looking freak of nature that continues to captivate aspiring marine biologists.

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 © 2020 by Christopher M. Stephens Consulting & Writing

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