Creative photos and essays from the San Juan Islands

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Jake’s catch

Jake's catch

My son Jake found this gadget at the Port’s free booth. All kinds of goodies show up there. I’ve found a mirror with a unique shell collection frame and dozens of other useful items.

This grabber is locked open, resembling a spider with many legs, then dropped on unsuspecting marine prey where it unlocks as it hits the bottom and closes upon the wanted catch which can’t crawl out of all the “legs.” Who’d have guessed that hours of entertainment were to be furnished by something for free. Ah, the Port of Friday Harbor, never a dull moment.

The critter caught here is a sun star, (Pycnopodia helianthoides) a starfish that can grow up to two feet across with many more than five arms with which to move about and capture its prey on its uncountable tube feet. They are voracious feeders and the fastest moving of all large starfish. One time, years ago, in front of my parent’s summer home on Hood Canal my skin diving Explorer Post collected a huge pile of the sun stars and left them on the beach to turn to compost. This effort helped the ecosystem to become more balanced, especially for the local Pacific oysters that were favorites of the starfish as well as the humans!SAM_1073

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