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

Gephyreaster swifti (Fisher, 1905)
Gunpowder Sea Star
Family: Goniasteridae
Photo of species

© Neil McDaniel  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #15880)

E-Fauna BC Static Map
Distribution of Gephyreaster swifti in British Columbia
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Family Description:

Flat body. Prominent marginals; the supero- and inferomarginals are similar. The aboral plates are flat or paxilliform, bearing granules, low stumps or spines. Only the radial areas have papulae. Pedicellariae are generally present. The tube feet have suckers.

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.

Gephyreaster swifti is star shaped with small, tightly packed aboral paxillae and obvious granule-covered marginals. The aboral side is pink-orange and the oral side is paler. It has five arms up to 21 cm long, and an arm-to-disc ratio of 2.1 to 2.6. Rich Mattison of Juneau, Alaska, brought me a live specimen of G. swifti that was 41.5 cm in diameter. The aboral paxillae are closely packed and crowned with numerous granuliform spinelets. Between the paxillae, and almost hidden by them, are 1 to 3 papulae. The marginals are conspicuous and rounded, with a definite groove between infero- and superomarginals. The oral interradial area has oblong plates covered with coarse spinelets that lie in rows between the inferomarginals and corresponding adambulacrals. The adambulacrals have 2 or 3 furrow spines that almost cover the ambulacral furrow; and the oral surface has two or three transverse rows of 5 or 6 spines. The mouth plates are prominent, with numerous small blunt spines on the oral surface and numerous marginal spines in a series progressing to a single large apical spine.

Similar Species

Gephyreaster swifti is never vermilion like Mediaster aequalis, which is similar in shape but has smoother marginals that encroach much more on the aboral surface. Pseudarchaster alascensis is flatter, smoother and its arms tape


Feeds on sea anemones, especially Metridium senile and Stomphia coccinea.



Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands to Washington, in depths of 11 to 344 metres on rock or sand. Uncommon in southern British Columbia; more common in northern waters.

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

Mimaster swifti Fisher

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: 2024-02-28 3:54:07 AM]
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