Starfish are fascinating sea creatures. Their bodies are shaped like a star. When the fish is alive, the starfish is flexible and can move around the ocean and beach. However, once the starfish dies, its body hardens into a shell-like material. The best time to find both living and dead starfish varies by location and time of the year. While it is typically legal to collect dead starfish, many beaches prohibit removing live starfish from the beach.
It is possible to find starfish on nearly any beach, but it is rare to find them on beaches north of Massachusetts. Any further north and the creatures have a hard time finding food and moving from place to place. More southern beaches, such as those in California, Hawaii, Florida and along the East Coast of the United States are all ideal locations for finding starfish.
Most starfish live around rocky areas. They hide under rocks and cliffs to avoid predators and to catch bottom-dwelling creatures, which they eat for food. Rocky beaches, such as those surrounded by cliffs or those with rocky shore lines and a large number of tide pools are the best place to find starfish. The starfish not only prefer these conditions, but they can also get trapped under the rocks or in rocky tide pools, making them easier to find.
Low tide is the best time to search for starfish. During the high tide, the ocean brings the water higher up on the shore, then when the water recedes, starfish and other seashells get trapped on the shore line and in tide pools, making them much easier to find. The time for low tide varies by beach, but typically there are several low tide points during the day, some in the early morning and some in the afternoon. Most beaches have information on when low tide arrives.
Crustaceans and Mollusks
Starfish eat a diet high in crustaceans and mollusks. Because of this somewhat limited diet, the best place and time to look for starfish are beaches where crustaceans have a high concentration and during their peak breeding seasons. These seasons will vary by beach, but many of the mollusks and crustaceans that are harvested from the United States live along the eastern coastline. The early morning, before all of the mollusks are collected or fall back into the ocean is also an ideal time to look for starfish.
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