Like all marine animals, starfish is an organism found in the sea for one simple reason: They do not breathe air. Although this is something very logical, some people captivated by their beauty take them out of the water without thinking about the damage they cause them.
Maybe you heard someone say that if you take a starfish out of the water it dies immediately, in 1 minute, in 5 minutes, etc. The truth is not something that happens exactly in 1 minute, but if you take them out and put them several times even for less than 30 seconds, they also die, and then we explain why and what you can do to protect them.
Starfish die suffocated
According to the scientific explanation, starfish have on their bodies surface papules also called dermal gills which are used for gas exchange, each papule thin walls is a prolongation of the coelom, so gases are automatically exchanged between coelomic liquid and water.
In simple words this means that the starfish capture oxygen from the water for their breathing process through these dermal gills and when these species are removed from their aquatic habitat they cannot perform the exchange of gases for their life cycles, what they suffer from intoxication, usually with dioxide or carbon monoxide and in a relatively short time they die, that is, they “drown”, it takes about 3 to 5 minutes depending on the specimen.
In humans, this activity would be equivalent to filling the lungs with water for a few minutes to take a funny picture. Do you dare? Who volunteers? Do not worry, every 5 minutes we empty your lungs for a few seconds so you do not die and then we refill them for the next photo session.
Starfish also die of stress
Even without taking them out of the water, constant handling, taking them out and putting them many times, stacking them, putting them together or placing them on top of each other as if they were a toy for our creativity, are conditions alien to the way of life of these animals, which can easily cause them death.
Photos that kill starfish
Can you imagine a session of photos underwater, and tell you that every time you have to submerge, hold your breath and do not let you rest?
On a pair of occasions, I have participated in scientific studies of starfish, where biologists, take them only once for a few seconds to photograph and measure them, take them very carefully and even use gloves, so that the pH of our body or products To protect our skin from the sun, do not cause them harm.
The fact that they are hard and have these thorns does not mean that they are all terrain, to remove them a single time will not kill them, but they are taken out by one person, then the other wants to see them, that if the child wants to touch them, then he was beyond that, too; the other is curious, etc. So in this way, one after another, the poor little animal goes suffering.
Starfish are victims of fame
Those photos that people take with starfish, whether simple or elaborate (like the previous photo) promote wrong behavior on the part of tourists and, in some cases, even tourist companies where they are more concerned with making money than with respecting wildlife by encouraging this behavior.
What they actually do is promoting a show that diffuses a message contrary to what it should be, by teaching what to do what should not be done.
PLEASE: DO NOT take the stars out of the water
How to help protect them:
- Starfish are observed from outside the water or from inside with snorkeling, without removing them.
- And if you did not know and you already did, we thank you for not disclosing your photos on the Internet and when you show it to your friends or family, always let it be known that it is not the right thing to do. You did it without knowing, but it is about time that nobody else keeps doing it.
- When you see someone doing this, do not be cruel and ruthless, they may not know what they are doing. Kindly transmit this information so that they do not do it anymore.
- Share this information with friends and acquaintances. The more people know, the quicker we will stop practicing these bad habits that damage this natural treasure of our beaches.