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A white wave shape.

Basket star

Basket’s my name, catching prey is my game

Basket stars are perfectly named: they can extend their many arms into the current to form a wide “basket” and capture their next meal. With all arms extended, basket stars may reach a diameter of up to 4 feet! Keep reading to learn more about these amazing echinoderms.

At the Aquarium

All spread out and ready to eat

When on the hunt, basket stars unfurl and uncurl their arms—each lined with a series of hooks and spines—and wait for the current to deliver a meal in the form of plankton and animals such as juvenile shrimp, jellies and krill. After a successful capture, basket stars use their arms to wrap the prey in strands of mucus, then employ their tube feet to slowly transport the food to their mouth (on the underside of their disc). Basket stars don’t poop, as such: they don’t have an anus. Instead, they expel any remains from their mouth after digestion is complete.

Going strong—but they still need some help from their friends

The good news is that basket stars aren’t listed as endangered or threatened. The less-good news is that they can still be negatively impacted by fishing gear, seabed mining and climate change. What’s the common denominator there? You guessed it: human activity. You can make a difference for basket stars and their neighbors in all kinds of ways, both individually and collectively. Visit our Act for the Ocean webpage to learn more!

Quick facts

These invertebrates catch their prey by forming a wide “basket” with their arms.

Certain basket stars can live up to 6,200 feet below the ocean’s surface.

Basket stars don’t poop! Instead, they expel remains from their mouth.

Explore More Invertebrates

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Two sea otters at the Seattle Aquarium floating on the water in their habitat, holding onto each other demonstrating a rafting behavior.

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