Description: Radius 2" (51 mm), 6-armed ( note the species name hexactis referring to the six arms.). Green, black, brown, or red, sometimes mottled. Disk moderate-sized with 6 fairly broad arms; spines on upper surface dense and mushroom-shaped. rarely do we find these at Race Rocks exceeding 15 cm in length.
Habitat: On rocky shores. We frequently find these when doing intertidal studies or when diving in shallow water at Race Rocks. Range British Columbia to s. California.
Discussion: L. hexactis eats small snails, limpets, mussels, chitons, barnacles, sea cucumbers, and other species, including dead animals. It produces yellow, yolky eggs that stick together in a mass after fertilization. These are brooded under the disk of the female until they hatch as miniature sea stars after 6 to 8 weeks. The small six-rayed sea stars of the West Coast are quite variable and have presented problems of identification. The only other species currently recognized is the Small Slender Sea Star (L. pusilla) which has sharp spines and longer, thinner arms than L. hexactis, and is a light gray-brown or reddish color. It also has a very limited range from San Francisco to Monterey Bay. It reaches a radius of 1" (25 mm).
Echinoderms have a few important aspects in common. They have bony ossicles in their body. They have a water-vascular system which pumps water through the madroporite. They also have small jaws that are supported by the water-vascular system. And they have tube feet which they use to attach to objects, for protection, as well as to obtain food. They have radial symmetry and most can regenerate lost limbs.