Rosamond Gifford Zoo

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Leather Star

Dermasterias imbricata

Leather stars get their name because they are smooth and slippery to the touch, like wet leather. They are bluish gray with red and orange mottling. Their five arms are boarder and shorter than many other stars, and they can range in size up to 12”.

Range & Habitat

Leather Stars can be found in harbors and rocky shores from Alaska to California. They abide in tide pools and intertidal zones and in some cases use man-made objects (docks, pilings) in order to search for food. 

Conservation Status: Not Evaluated


Consists of an omnivorous diet; they occasionally fed on algae but primarily consume sea anemones, sea cucumbers, and occasionally other invertebrates and sponges

Life Span

In the Wild: Unknown
In Human Care: Unknown

Fun Facts about the Leather Star

  • Leather Stars are also known as garlic stars because they excrete a garlic like smell; this is one of their defense mechanisms.
  • When the species feed, the starfish climbs over top and swallows their prey whole and digest it internally.


Brietzke, C. and Starzomski B. 2013. Biodiversity of the Central Coast. Accessed June 11, 2021 at

Klinkenbert, Brian. (Editor) 2021. E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia ]]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouve. Accessed 2021-06-11 from

Oregon Coast Aquarium (2021). Leather Star. Retrieved June 11, 2021, from


Updated June 13, 2023
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