The Northern Pacific sea star has distinctive upturned tips. These starfish have done enormous damage in Tasmania and South Australia. They consume shellfish at an alarming rate, reproducing and feeding until all available food is eliminated, and then they turn on each other.
They survive well in cool waters from 5°C to 20°C, so the New Zealand environment would suit them. They have a long larval stage so they can easily survive ocean crossings in ballast water. Juveniles could also arrive attached to hulls, and adults could be concealed in sea chests. The Ministry of Fisheries and Biosecurity New Zealand are attempting to prevent its introduction.
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Reference: AFSC, NMFS, Kodiak Lab
Photograph by Jan Haaga
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