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Cheiraster dawsoni (Verrill, 1880)
Sea Star
Family: Benthopectinidae


© Aaron Baldwin     (Photo ID #43636)


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Distribution of Cheiraster dawsoni in British Columbia in British Columbia


Family Description

Primarily a deep water family. Small disc; long, narrow arms that taper towards the tips. The main characteristic is a pair of longitudinal muscles on the aboral side of each arm from the level of the third to ninth superomarginal to the arm tip. Papulae confined to papularia on the arms or disc. Supero- and inferomarginals alternate and have long spines. The tube feet have suckers. The pedicellariae are pectinate.


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Species Information

Cheiraster dawsoni is a spiny vermilion sea star with five arms up to 17 cm long. The ratio of arm to disc is from 5.0 to 5.5. The larger aboral plates bear a large central spine surrounded at the base by a circle of 2 to 8 unequal spinelets; the smaller plates bear 1 to 12 spinelets. Papulae are absent from the centre of the disc, the aboral interradial area and the outer two-thirds of the arm; there are 3 to 8 pectinate pedicellariae on proximal half of each arm. The superomarginals and inferomarginals are staggered (not opposite each other). The superomarginals bear 2 stout tapering spines, and around each spine is a circle of 12 to 15 slender spinelets. The inferomarginals have 3 or 4 rigid tapering spines surrounded by auxiliary spinelets that are one-third the length of the spine. The oral interradial area has a few plates with small, well-spaced spinelets, 1 or 2 tapering spines and 1 to 3 pectinate pedicellariae. The adambulacrals are wider than their length; the curved furrow margin bears 4 to 7 spinelets, of which the central 3 or 4 are longer than the width of the plate; the oral surface has a transverse series of 2 or 3 long, slender spines, with a few spinelets around the edge. Mouth plates have 6 to 8 marginal spines, the apical spine being the largest, and 7 to 10 suborals.


Similar Species

Above 200 metres depth, this species is very distinctive in shape and surface detail. In depths greater than 200 metres it might be confused with Nearchaster or Benthopecten species.



The Bering Sea to northern Oregon in depths of 73 to 384 metres. Found on mud, sand, pebbles and rock. Common.

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)

BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Archaster dawsoni Verrill

Additional Range and Status Information Links

General References