The Curious World Of Sea Stars

Day 4 - The Curious Life Of Sea Stars - #doodlewashMay2018 Doodlewash

When thinking about our watercolor painting and sketching prompt of “stars” today, my mind began to wander a bit. I thought of stars in the sky and also the fact that it’s Star Wars Day today, so if you’re celebrating that, May the 4th be with you, but ultimately, I ended up in the sea instead. A starfish caught my eye today, so I made a quick little 3-color doodlewash of one. They are also called sea stars, a name preferred by scientists since they aren’t really a fish at all. Next, of course, I got lost in learning about these odd little creatures. They have no brains and no blood, just filtered sea water, and yet they have a complex nervous system, so they could still feel pain. Little tiny tubes are what they have for feet to move about, rather quickly actually, and there’s an eye at the tip of each of the points of the star. But they have rather poor eyesight and don’t see as well as we humans might. Unless it’s me without my glasses or contacts, then it’s probably rather similar. But, I finished my quick research with a newfound appreciation for these little critters.

One of the weirder bits of info I stumbled across was that they can regenerate their limbs. If they’re under attack by a predator, they just leave a leg behind and spend the next year slowly growing it back. That’s both ingenuity and commitment. What’s stranger to me still is that most of the time, we think of them not alive and skirting around in the water, but simply a lovely object of art. Like sand dollars which seem so lovely, and we don’t even really think about the fact that they are also living creatures that are actually part of this same family. But starfish are gorgeous and can be found in over 2,000 varieties so it’s no wonder they’ve become one of the most popular icons of the ocean itself. Just looking at one makes me think of the beach, and that always makes me smile. It’s so curious the creatures that exist in nature and I’m always fascinated by all the wild and wonderful things that appear there.

I wonder what it would be like to live as a sea star. Having no brain at all must be quite satisfying at times. Nothing to actually fret about or think through, just a life lived entirely by instinct. Yeah sure, being able to regenerate limbs could be a cool bonus, but just floating along and letting life do what it does it a provocative proposition. I have a horrible habit of letting my brain get in the way much of the time. As much as I live life without a lot of actual preparation for things, I spend tons of time playing out scenarios in my head. What would happen if this or that occurred. Or what if I tried this thing, or no wait, maybe it’s this other thing I should do next. In truth, it can get rather exhausting and get in the way of just enjoying whatever little thing comes next. I’m quite happy to have a brain, but if I could just shut it off at times I think it would be a wonderful thing indeed. I could just float about in no thoughts of any kind and for at least the briefest of moments, enjoy the curious world of sea stars.

About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Benzimida Orange, Quinacridone Red, and Cobalt Blue. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
 Day 4 - The Curious Life Of Sea Stars - #doodlewashMay2018 Doodlewash

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!

Recommended4 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
33 Comments
  1. Mary Roff 2 months ago

    Beautiful sea,star. I wish more people knew that these were living creatures.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Mary! 😃💕 Yeah, it’s funny how many sea creatures end up more as objects.

  2. Ellen 2 months ago

    Your Sea Star and thoughts are splendiferous, as always. I have been fascinated by Star Fish since my first experience with them as a child. They are every bit as remarkable as yourself. One of my favorite stories is “The Star Thrower” by Loren Eiseley, also known as The Starfish Story. Thank-you!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Aww thanks so much, Ellen! 😃💕 They are such intriguing creatures. I’ll have to check out that book!

  3. Sandra Strait 2 months ago

    Your sea star is beautiful, no surprise there! Did you know that some scientists think, that despite our advanced brains, we non-self-aware beings with no inner voice who merely respond to external stimuli? In essence, we have brains but really don’t use them to think, just to respond. Not sure I buy it, but i would explain some strange things I’ve known people to do…

    • Sharon Nolfi 2 months ago

      Yes, Sandra, I’ve taken a class in neuroscience, and it does appear that free will may be an illusion. Very interesting stuff.

      • Sandra Strait 2 months ago

        I find it endlessly fascinating? Have you ever read any of Robert J Sawyer’s science-fiction? His ‘Quantum Night’ is based around this science. I don’t think I agree with his outcomes, but I’m not sure he does either. I ‘think’ he just likes to get people to think, possibly thereby undermining the conclusion, lol.

        • Sharon Nolfi 2 months ago

          No, I tend to read non-fiction. Sounds interesting, though.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks, Sandra! 😃💕Yeah, I’m not sure that’s true for me, but it seems likely for many people I get behind while driving. lol I do think we respond more to external stimuli than we should ever have to considering we have brains. 😉

  4. memadtwo 2 months ago

    I love the name sea stars…I’ll have to think how I can use that in a poem. (K)

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Isn’t it an awesome name!? Can’t wait to see what you’ll do with it, Kerfe! 😃💕

  5. Sharon Nolfi 2 months ago

    Wonderful tones in the shadows and sand, along with a lovely sea star. One of my favorite marine creatures, along with seahorses, which of course, are not really horses!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Sharon! 😃💕hehe… yeah… can you imagine a sea horse the size of an actual horse. It would be terrifying! lol

  6. Rachel Herold 2 months ago

    I like! 😄
    Shiny trio plus red?

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks, Rachel! 😃💕 Actually, this one is a trio of a different sort, only includes the Cobalt Blue from the shiny trio and adds Benzimida Orange and Quinacridone Red instead!

  7. Lisa 2 months ago

    With all that stuff going for them, I think if their size was increased about 25 times, they would make great horror movie creatures! The Sea Star From Space!!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      hehe! That sounds crazy and awesome, Lisa! I would totally watch that movie! 😃💕 lol

  8. SnehLata Maheshwari 2 months ago

    Beautiful star fish in merin life.

  9. louiseaprimeau 2 months ago

    Beautiful sea star. I have never seen a real one but I love yours and all the information you included. Cheers!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks, Louise! 😃💕 Yeah, I’ve only seen them in tanks at aquariums. They’re usually just objects on a beach.

  10. smzang 2 months ago

    ” May the 4th be with you”

    Yeth!! : )

    “That’s both ingenuity and commitment.”

    the true secret of survival!

    Always a joy to read your thoughts. I grew up
    on the Atlantic, and yet I’ve learned more about
    the sea star than in all the previous ( ) years
    of my life.

    I love the painting and the article. It gives me energy
    and knowledge…also components of survival, and pleasure.

    Thank you!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Sarah! 😃💕I’m so thrilled you liked this! A bit of a departure as I am easily distracted as you know! hehe

  11. Pamela Smith 2 months ago

    Very nice starfish.

  12. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 2 months ago

    I’ve always had a hard time getting my head around the fact that sea stars (I’m giving in to your identification) don’t have brains – that’s just counterintuitive to what I understand about life. Maybe they are not really animals but plants, giving new meaning to the old excuse, “I spent the whole day just vegetating.”

    At least you, Charlie, painted a star fish – er, sea star.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Yeah, it’s a mind-blowing though… that combined with the lack of blood. Nature has many surprises. But I do like the idea of bringing new meaning to vegetating! 😃💕

  13. cedds 2 months ago

    Very interesting. Thank you!

  14. Larry Marshall 2 months ago

    Since you’ve initiated discussion of brains and such, I thought I’d chime in. While it’s true that humans have a higher degree of cephalization than do starfish, this does mean that starfish don’t “think,” or that humans do it more than any other animal. Watch a starfish locate, manipulate and devour a clam. They’re probably not good at calculus but…

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      True! That’s a very good point, Larry! And how many humans ever really need to use calculus anyway. 😉 hehe

  15. Phil Cooper 2 months ago

    Gorgeous painting Charlie, so evocative of summer on the beach 😊. And what a fascinating post, I’ve learnt something today!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Phil! 😃💕 And yay! hehe.. glad I could share my knowledge…. errrr… love of trivia at least! 😉

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