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Stars of the ocean show off at the BioPark.

Chocolate Chip Sea Star

Posted September 12, 2013. Photo courtesy of Sal Galindo.

You don’t need to look in the sky to find these stars. The Aquarium is home to the chocolate chip sea star (Protoreaster nodosus), named for dark brown tubercles that protect the top of its body. In this photo of the star’s underside, you can see hundreds of tube feet surrounding its mouth.

Scientists have identified more than 2,000 species of sea stars. These otherworldly creatures are echinoderms, not fish, and are known for their regenerative qualities. Most can regenerate lost limbs, and in some species, a limb itself can grow an entirely new body!

While these beauties might look harmless, mollusks better look out. After cracking a mollusk's shell, a sea star pushes its stomach out of its mouth to devour its prey. Then it pulls its stomach back into its body and digests the food.

You can view these and other marine oddities at the upcoming Aquarium Overnight on September 20.

Have you slept with the sea stars at one of our overnights? Tell us about your adventure on Facebook.

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