E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Wildlife of British Columbia

Diplopteraster multipes (Sars, 1865)
Cushion Star
Family: Pterasteridae
Photo of species

© Aaron Baldwin  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #6741)

E-Fauna BC Static Map
Distribution of Diplopteraster multipes in British Columbia
Details about map content are available here.


Family Description:

The aboral side of body is inflated and the oral side flat. A supra dorsal membrane supported by the spines of the paxillae covers the true aboral surface to create a nidamental chamber. In the centre of this membrane is a large opening (osculum). Many smaller spiracles pierce the rest of the membrane. On each side of the ambulacral furrow is a wide actinolateral membrane supported by long spines; between the spines are small holes, each guarded by an operculum, which lead to the nidamental chamber; water enters here and is expelled through the osculum. No oral intermediate plates.

Species Information

Click on the image below to view an expanded illustration for this taxon. If more than one illustration is available for a species (e.g., two subspecies may be illustrated) then links to the separate images will be provided below.

Diplopteraster multipes is a plump, pentagonal sea star with the aboral surface bristling with spines that protrude through the supradorsal membrane. The alternating adambulacral spine arrangement is characteristic of this species. The body is purple-red aborally and greyish-white orally, with reddish-orange tube feet. D. multipes has five arms (rarely six) up to 10 em long. The ratio of arm to disc ranges from 1.2 to 1.6. The aboral supradorsal membrane is pierced by the central spine of each paxilla and 8 to 20 pores or spiracles. The central spine is surrounded by 7 to 9 shorter, slender spines. A large pore, the osculum, in centre of aboral surface opens and closes as water is expelled. The number of spines in the transverse combs of the adambulacrals alternates from 3 or 4 per plate to 4 or 5. Every other comb is set back slightly from the furrow. The mouth plates have 4 or 5 marginal spines and 1 slender suboral spine.

Similar Species

Diplopteraster multipes is similar in shape to Pteraster but the protruding spines distinguish this species. Pteraster militaris and P. tesselatus are commonly seen in shallow water, but D. multipes is not.


The stomach contents of collected D. multipes included brittle star fragments and sand. Off Oregon, two specimens had stomachs partially everted when collected, suggesting extra-oral digestion of prey, like most sea stars. D. multipes secretes copious amounts of phosphorescent mucus.



Circumpolar; in the Atlantic, from the Arctic to Chesapeake Bay and southwest of Ireland, 91 to 1225 metres deep; in the Pacific, to northern Japan and San Diego, California, at depths of 57 to 1171 metres; and off the coast of South Africa. Found on mud, sand and gravel. Uncommon in this region (the area from Glacier Bay to Puget Sound to a depth to 200 metres).

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

Pteraster multipes Sars

Additional Range and Status Information Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References

Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2021. E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia [efauna.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: 2024-07-13 10:19:46 AM]
Disclaimer: The information contained in an E-Fauna BC atlas pages is derived from expert sources as cited (with permission) in each section. This information is scientifically based.  E-Fauna BC also acts as a portal to other sites via deep links.  As always, users should refer to the original sources for complete information.  E-Fauna BC is not responsible for the accuracy or completeness of the original information.

© E-Fauna BC 2021: An initiative of the Spatial Data Lab, Department of Geography, UBC