Sunflower Sea Star
About the Species
The sunflower sea star occurs throughout intertidal and subtidal coastal waters of the Northeast Pacific Ocean from the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, to at least the Southern California Bight.
Sunflower sea stars are broadcast spawners that require close proximity to mates for successful fertilization.
There is no single, systematically collected data set that provides population size or long-term trend data for sunflower sea stars throughout their range. However, from 2013-17, an outbreak of sea star wasting syndrome contributed to precipitous population declines in several areas, with impacts progressing sequentially from south to north. Disease, specifically sea star wasting syndrome, appears to be the primary threat to the species.
- Throughout Its Range
In the Spotlight
NOAA Fisheries initiated a status review of this species in December 2021. This status review will be used to determine whether listing the sunflower sea star as a threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act is warranted. During this time, the sunflower sea star is considered a candidate species under the ESA.