How Long can a Starfish Live?

A starfish can regenerate lost limbs, and can even have their internal organs. The age of the oldest starfish is still debated among scientists.
JAN23 How Long can a Starfish Live
By Ave Calvar from Unsplash+

What is the maximum lifespan of a starfish? This question has long remained a mystery, but recent studies have shed some light on the subject. Read on to learn more about how long can a starfish live or how long do starfish survive out of water and the surprising longevity of starfish and what factors may influence their life expectancy.

1. How Long can a Starfish Live?

A starfish can live up to 35 years, but how long can a starfish live generally? The average lifespan is about 10 to 15 years. They can regenerate lost limbs, and a few species can even regenerate their internal organs. (See How Long do Alligators Live?)

2. How Old is the Oldest Starfish?

The age of the oldest starfish is still debated among scientists. However, according to research published in the Royal Society, the oldest fossilized starfish dates back at least 480 million years ago during the Ordovician period. However, it’s important to note that these ages are based on fossil evidence and may not necessarily reflect the true age of the species. On the other hand, the oldest living individual oldest starfish likely has an age closer to 20-30 years old. Ultimately, more research should be conducted to determine the true age of the asterozoan lineage. 

3. How do Starfish die?

When out of the water, starfish suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning and can quickly die due to asphyxiation. Stress from excessive handling can also lead to their death. To preserve starfish populations, we need to observe them in their natural habitat without disturbing or removing them from their environment. By understanding and respecting their needs, we can ensure the continued survival of these unique creatures. (See How Long do Goats live?)

4. How Long do Starfish survive out of Water?

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The answer to how long do starfish survive out of water may vary depending on the specific species of starfish and the conditions it is out of water. However, starfish can survive for about 3 to 5 minutes out of the water before dying. It is important to note that a starfish may still be alive for some time after being removed from the water, but without access to oxygen obtained from water, its organs will eventually begin to fail, and it will die.

Therefore, if a starfish is removed from its aquatic habitat, it is important to return it as quickly as possible. Also, don’t handle starfish too roughly while out of the water, as they can easily break apart due to their fragile bodies. 

5. Are Starfish Older than Dinosaurs?

The age-old question of how long can a starfish live and whether starfish are older than dinosaurs has finally been answered: they are true! While the oldest starfish fossil dates back to the Jurassic period, over 175 million years ago, the first dinosaurs appeared during the Triassic period, which began around 230 million years ago.

This means that starfish evolved and lived on Earth for millions of years before dinosaurs appeared on the scene. Additionally, it’s important to note that not all stars are considered true starfish scientifically. Some species resemble sea urchins or cucumbers more closely and only earn their title through their characteristic shape and abilities. (Also read All Types of Dinosaur Names and Pictures)

6. How Big do Starfish get?

Starfish can grow quite large, ranging from less than ½ an inch to 40 inches. The largest starfish in the world can weigh up to 11 pounds. They are found in both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

7. Do Starfish like being touched?

When it comes to starfish, it is important to remember that they are living creatures and not objects or decorations. Like any other animal, they may have varying tolerance levels for being touched. It is always best to err on the side of caution and observe them from a distance rather than attempting to touch them.

Instead of touching them, enjoy watching the starfish interact with their environment and marvel at their unique features without causing a disturbance. Remember, leave no trace and do not interfere with the wildlife in their natural habitats if you want to understand how long can a starfish live. (See Do All Animals have Teeth?)

8. Can You have a Starfish as a Pet?

While starfish may seem like a unique and exotic addition to a home aquarium, starfish as a pet is not well-suited to life in captivity.

  • First, their diet consists primarily of live prey, such as clams and mussels, which can be difficult and expensive to provide regularly.
  • In addition, starfish require specialized water conditions and substrates to thrive, making them difficult to care for in a typical home aquarium setup.
  • It is also important to consider that wild-caught starfish typically have a low survival rate in captivity due to the stress of capture and transport.

For these reasons, it is best to admire starfish in their natural habitat rather than try to keep them as pets. 

9. Is it Illegal to Pick up a Starfish?

Apart from knowing how long can a starfish live, please inscribe that it is never a good idea to collect live specimens from the beach, including starfish. In some areas, this may even be against the law. One should always respect and preserve local biodiversity, as each species plays a unique and important role in its ecosystem. Removing animals such as starfish can disrupt the balance in that ecosystem and potentially lead to consequences for other species.

It is best to admire marine life from a distance, taking only photos and leaving only footprints. It is also worth noting that removing a starfish from its habitat can also harm the animal itself, as it may rely on being in a certain location or temperature for survival. Therefore, it is best to leave all beach-dwelling creatures in their natural habitat where they belong. 

10. Why are Starfish washed up on Beach?

While the sight of numerous starfish washed up on shore may be alarming, it is a natural phenomenon that occurs regularly. The main reason for this mass beaching is a change in ocean water temperature. Starfish are sensitive to temperature changes and will migrate toward cooler waters in search of comfort. This migration can also be triggered by storms or strong currents, leading to large numbers of starfish being pushed toward the shoreline.

In some cases, the starfish may not survive the journey and wash up on the beach dead. While it may be upsetting to come across a beach full of deceased starfish, it is important to remember that this is simply a part of nature. It is also important for beachgoers to leave stranded starfish where they are, as touching or moving them can cause harm or even death. (See 17 Types of Sea Anemone)

11. Should You Rescue Starfish?

When it comes to starfish strandings, the question of whether or not to intervene can be difficult. On the one hand, rescuing stranded starfish may seem noble, giving them a second chance at survival in their natural habitat. However, it is important to consider the potential negative impact of our actions. Starfish are unique creatures with specific requirements for their environment, and removing them from the beach could disrupt delicate ecosystems and introduce unfamiliar diseases into wild populations.

Besides wondering how long can a starfish live, note that simply returning the starfish to the water may not be enough to ensure its survival; without proper care and treatment, it may still succumb to injury or infection. In general, it is best to leave starfish strandings to nature and contact local marine experts for guidance on assisting and protecting these creatures in their habitats. 

12. Should you throw Starfish back into Ocean?

The question of whether or not to throw starfish back into the ocean is common for beach-goers. While it may seem like a kind gesture to return them to their natural habitat, it is important to consider the potential consequences. In some cases, throwing starfish back into the ocean can do more harm than good.

For example, if the starfish were washed up on the shore due to an illness or injury, returning it to the ocean could spread disease to other marine life. Additionally, if the starfish do not have enough strength to survive in their new environment or if they are not native to the particular region, reentry into the water could disturb the delicate ecosystem balance.

It is always best to consult with local authorities or marine experts before taking action in such situations. Generally, it is better to leave wildlife rescue efforts to trained professionals who can handle starfish and other sea creatures safely and responsibly.

So, how long can a starfish live or how long do starfish survive out of water? The lifespan of a starfish is determined by many different factors, including the species of starfish, their habitats, and whether or not they are subject to predation. In general, however, most starfish can live for several years in captivity. If you’re interested in learning more about Steller sea creatures like starfish as a pet, check out our other blog posts. (Also read What is The Relationship between Water Clarity and Urchin Survival?)

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