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  • Heather Davis

The Starfish and its Age-Old Sensory Wisdom

Updated: Mar 6


Starfish are shooting stars that fell in love with the sea.” ― Marie-Louise Gay

Found in all the world’s oceans, a wondrous symbol of intuition and perception is the mysterious and ancient starfish.

Over 450 million years old, the sea star is an entirely sensory creature. Rather than a brain, their intelligence stems from nerves that run through the body and limbs. These stars of the sea show us the magic that can come from feeling your way through life for a change.

Every star is not the same.

There are over 1,500 breeds of starfish. We are likely familiar with their vivid colors, varied configurations and diverse textures seen in warm tidal waters, but these animals can also be found in dark polar regions and in depths of up to 20,000 ft.

For all that is known about the sea star, they also give research scientists a run for their money. The fossil record is scant because their remains quickly disintegrate. Even live animals are both uncooperative and awesome in their expertise at expelling objects foreign to them, making them difficult to tag for study. Refusing to be restrained, they even grow back limbs if they need to leave one behind in an escape attempt.

In his classic Cannery Row, John Steinbeck describes the brilliance of how their “orange and speckled and fluted nudibranchs slide gracefully over the rocks, their skirts waving like the dresses of Spanish dancers.” And on the other end of the spectrum is the decidedly less graceful but lovable, Patrick, SpongeBob’s best starfish buddy. There’s just something about this rock star of the sea that forever captures the imagination.


The star's appendages reach out to experience the world. By throwing caution to the tides and following age-old sensory guidance, they always end up in the right place.

In celebration of all that is the sea star is Starfish Prance.


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