T for Tami on the SS Cape Matapan

Sea life: Sea star shapes

I’ve described (and illustrated) the remarkable ability of starfish to regrow limbs when they come a cropper. But sometimes we see starfish that are stubbornly resisting the five limbs trend… Either they haven’t started growing new legs, or they’re just in equilibrium with the number of limbs they have. Sometimes more than five!


We couldn’t decide if this guy – essentially just one leg – was alive. The leg appeared to be hanging onto some sea lettuce, and all the little tube feet were intact. I touched it, and it felt like part of a live starfish (I am intimately acquainted with the feel of starfish from my time at the Touch Pool). Good luck to him! I think he should be known as a linefish until he proves otherwise…

One leg!
One leg!


Here’s our wedding starfish, who obligingly lay in a heart shape for us! Shannon, who made our invitations, transferred his portrait to her design in shades of blue. So he looked arty and unique, and, I thought, very beautiful.

Our wedding starfish at Long Beach
Our wedding starfish at Long Beach... see, he is lying in a heart shape!


I found this three-legged sea star on the SS Cape Matapan opposite Cape Town Stadium. It was fitting, because Tami was my dive buddy!

T for Tami on the SS Cape Matapan
T for Tami on the SS Cape Matapan


This guy who we found on a dive we did on the Romelia doesn’t seem to need his fifth leg – he’s showing no signs of developing a new one and looks exceptionally healthy!

Four legs on the MV Romelia
Four legs on the MV Romelia


For five legs – boooooring! – you can go here! (Or, here.)


Finally, I leave you with a starfish for whom five legs just wasn’t enough. We occasionally see these specimens, where it seems that the “regrow leg” instruction got repeated too many times. This one was also on a dive we did on the Romelia. Count his legs carefully…

Count the legs... Carefully!
Count the legs... Carefully!

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Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

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