Native SpeciesNorthern sea star

Asterias rubens
FOUND by msk_seastar4
ID Confirmed
Quality checked by mdenniston
Peer reviewed by msk_anemone3
Field Notes
It was a perfect day to go to the beach and look for sea animals. It was a nice day. It was sunny day with a light breeze. The ocean was not rough. It was a clam day at the beach. There weren't many clouds in the sky.
Supporting Evidence
Photo of my evidence.
This shows how sea stars will stick on to a rock. They can move with their tubed feet but during low tide they will be under rocks or in the seaweed.
Photo of my evidence.
If you look close you can see the there are spikes on the sea star and they are lined up in a straight line. This is evidence that this species is the Northern Sea Star.
Photo of my evidence.
This shows how sea star's have tubed feet. They use tube feet to move around. If you look close you can see all the tubed feet are in a straight line on the underside of their arms.
Species Observation: Species Looked For
Did you find it?: 
I think I found it
Scientific name:
Asterias rubens
Common name:
Northern sea star
Is it alive?: 
Some dead & some alive
Count of individuals: 
How big is it?: 
2 - 5 cm
Is it male or female?: 
Can't tell
Sampling method: 
Quadrat (user-placement)
Photo of our sampling method.
Place Studied
We’re sorry, JavaScript is required to view the map. If JavaScript is you may wish to upgrade to a newer browser in order to view this map.
Map this species
N 43.344140 °
W -70.486690 °
Observation Site Information
A photo of our study site.
Coastal - Rocky intertidal
Trip Information
Kennebunk Beach
Trip date: 
Thu, 2013-05-16 09:00
Town or city: 
Type of investigation: 
Species and Habitat Survey
Time of low tide: 
Thu, 2013-05-16 10:13
Habitat Observations
Species diversity: 
36 different species
Evidence of vectors: 
Paved road
Walking trail
Water temperature: 
Dissolved oxygen: 


Hmmm that's interesting. The world of science and especially taxonomy (the naming and organization of how organisms are related to each other) is always updating as we learn more, so this is possible that they don't use Asterias vulgaris anymore and instead use Asterias rubens. Several references I've had a quick look at seem to use the two names interchangeably or prefer A. rubens. Online references are convenient and often can be more recently updated with the most current information, but you must be very careful where the source of the information comes from. Many of the references (including the one you mentioned) are from Europe and the opposite side of the Atlantic ocean, where species may be different, but it seems this renaming may apply here in the US too. The common sea star that I refer to above is the species Asterias forbesi, which appears to still be in use. Keep up the good work digging for the truth!


I know this is an old thread, but I was putting together some resources for some species ID cards and needed to get to the bottom of this. Looks like the currently accepted name is indeed A. rubens (Linnaeus, 1758, although he called it two species). Link to to WoRMS ,MSIP and ITIS (which is a site)



It's sea star season alright. Nice job identifying the Northern from the Common sea star. Also a good mix of photo evidence, a pic in the habitat, top side and underside. Did you know that sea star use those tube feet to eat too? They pull open mussel shells and then spit out their stomach into the shell and eat the mussel right in its own shell!! Its like a crazy sci-fi movie - but right in your back yard. Woah.


I've been doing some research on northern sea stars for an article, and it seems the scientific name Asterias vulgaris is no longer accepted, at least by the World Register of Marine Species ( I was under the impression based on this record that Asterias vulgaris and Asterias rubens are the same species (northern / common sea star) as Asterias vulgaris was deemed a synonym of Asterias rubens. So I'm wondering what the differences are between the Northern sea star and common sea star that you commented on above. What are the scientific names of the species you're referring to? Thanks so much for the info!