Grand Cayman’s Starfish
Grand Cayman’s Starfish are known as the Red Cushion Sea Star or West Indian Sea Star (oreaster reticulatus) and are found in red, brown, orange, and yellow.
The adult sea stars at Starfish Point are usually red/orange with yellow highlights and the young starfish are a dark green to better camouflage themselves in the seagrass where they spend their early years.
Starfish are one of the most photogenic creatures in the ocean and are found all over the world in many different forms.
Starfish reach adulthood when they are about six inches across and are commonly seen here in a range between 10 to 12 inches, although they do grow bigger. In our private charter photo gallery you will see a photo of the owner’s eldest son at Starfish Point holding one at least 20 inches across!
Cayman’s starfish mostly have 5 thick arms (other species can have as many as 40), and occasionally only four, but if you’re very lucky you may even see a six-armed Starfish at Starfish Point.
Interestingly, Starfish do not have a central brain but a de-centralized nervous system. They have an “eye spot” at the end of each arm which is more of a light sensor than an eye like ours. It is also true that Starfish are able to regrow lost arms, and in some species the lost arm will even grow a whole new starfish!
When you first meet a Starfish they seem hard and stiff and its easy to think they don’t move much. Take a few moments while you slow down to their speed and you will find that what you thought was a hard little star has wrapped around your hand, flipped itself back over or, if you’ve looked away too long has “exited stage left” far quicker than you thought possible.
Taking a photo with the starfish is a must, but please understand the sea water is their blood. Removing a starfish from the water is akin to stopping their heart so please keep them in the water for your photos.
The numbers of starfish in the ocean has dwindled over the years due to souvenir hunting and it is thankfully illegal in the Cayman Islands to take or remove starfish from our waters. As the starfish play an import role in the bio-diversification of the ecosystems in which they live, it is important for us all to treat them gently and with respect, leaving them as we found them so future generations can also enjoy the natural beauty of places like Starfish Point Grand Cayman.