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Henricia leviuscula (Stimpson, 1857)
Blood Star
Family: Echinasteridae


© Les Leighton     (Photo ID #14470)


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Distribution of Henricia leviuscula in British Columbia in British Columbia


In British Columbia, following Lambert's Sea Stars of British Columbia, Southeast Alaska and Puget Sound we presently recognize three subspecies of Henricia leviuscula

1) Henricia leviuscula annectens
2) Henricia leviuscula leviuscula
3) Henricia leviuscula spiculifera

We provide atlas pages for each. However, Lambert (pers. comm. 2012) indicates that the taxonomy of this genus is in flux and relationships between original published names and the various genetic entities require further work. A recent paper by Eernisse et al. (2010) addresses this species and groups several previous subspecies as H. leviuscula.(Stimpson 1857). For more details on this taxonomy, see: Eernisse, Douglas, Megumi Strathmann and Richard Stathmann. 2010. A brooding seastar (Asteroidea) from the coastal northeastern Pacific. Zootaxa 2329: 22-36.


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.

Species Information

Henricia leviuscula is the most common red thin-armed sea star in the intertidal and shallow waters of British Columbia. The colour may vary from orange to brick-red, to brown, and some specimens may have a grey patch around the base of the arms or covering the disc. The aboral surface is variable, but the three rows of plates along the lower side of each arm are a constant feature. H.l. leviuscula has five arms (rarely six) up to 16 cm long, and an arm-to-disc ratio of 3 to 7. The aboral plates, covered with 30 to 60 small, close-set spinelets, are close together and normally larger than the papular spaces. The supero- and inferomarginals form a regular series. At the base of each arm, the two marginal series split to form a triangular group of intermarginals. The oral intermediates form a regular series to the arm tip, or nearly so. The adambulacrals bear 5 to 12 stubby spine lets in two transverse rows, increasing in size proximally, and a short, curved spine let deep in the furrow. Small, yellowish sea stars that live under rocks in the intertidal zone and brood their eggs are probably an undescribed species of Henricia. Meg Strathmann of Friday Harbor Laboratories is working on the description and naming of this new animal.



Henricia leviuscula feeds on plankton, dissolved organic matter, bryozoans and the encrusting sponges Sigmadocia sp. and Isodictya quatsinoensis (N. McDaniel personal comment). I have seen large males releasing sperm from gonopores between the arms in April and May. Small yellowish females with brown mottling, that brood bright red-orange eggs (500 micrometres in diameter) from January through March are probably an undescribed species of Henricia (M. Strathmann, personal communication). The scale worm Arctonöe vittata and the caprellid Caprella greenleyi are commensal on H.l. Ieviuscula. Juveniles, less than 10 mm, live on tubes of the polychaete worm Phyllochaetopterus. H.l. Ieviuscula rights itself by somersaulting: it raises its central disc as it presses its arms onto the substrate, then two of the arms "walk" underneath the disc and the opposing arms fold over, so that the animal lands on it oral surface.



The Gulf of Alaska to Santa Barbara, California; 10 to 228 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.

Additional Range and Status Information Links

General References