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News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy

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Starfish Galaxies: Joshua Cripps Shares the Story Behind His Award-Winning Photo

Posted On July 1, 2013 by

Motukiekie Galaxies

Credit: Joshua Cripps

During Ocean Conservancy’s 2012 Marine Life and Seascape Photo Contest, we received over 600 entries, showcasing everything from sea turtles to sharks to seashells. Though there were plenty of amazing photographs, only one could be our grand-prize winner.

Photographer Joshua Cripps shares with us the story behind his award-winning photo, “Motukiekie Galaxies”:

What’s the story behind this photo?

I took this photo at Motukiekie Beach on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand during a month-long photography expedition. It’s a remarkable beach full of tide pools, mirror-like sand, massive tidal swings and intriguing sea stacks and caves.

What made you take the photo?

I have a sometimes-dangerous habit of being too curious: “Hmm, what’s just over that cliff?” “Can I jump down into this canyon?” In this case I saw some tide pools right at the water’s edge and wanted to go investigate them, despite the fact that the water was rising quickly and I knew I’d probably get soaked by going out there.

But once I rock-hopped out to the tidal pools, I found hundreds of these 12-legged sea stars clinging to the rocks. That amazing sight, along with the beautiful sea stacks farther out to sea and the moody conditions at the time, left me with no question that I was going to take a photo.

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Pearls of Wisdom: Answer

Posted On May 13, 2012 by

TRUE: Sea stars have an eye on the end of each arm. (Called an ocellus, it’s one of the simplest eyes in the animal kingdom and has no cornea or lens.)
TRUE: Sea stars have two stomachs. (Food begins in the cardiac stomach and moves to the pyloric stomach.)
FALSE: Sea stars have a water vascular system that filters toxins from the water.

While sea stars do have a water vascular system for movement, it does not filter water. The system consists of tons of tiny tube feet on their underside that suck up and force out water, creating enough hydraulic pressure for sea stars to move across the ground. Since there is no way to filter the water, they are extra vulnerable to water pollution; Think of sea stars next time you are choosing whether to use eco-friendly detergent for your laundry. For more tube feet awesomeness, watch the above video from the Seattle Aquarium.