It's no secret that the strains of a gently surging surf under a serene cyan sky act as a siren's call bringing visitors almost against their will to settle on sandy beaches and soak up the warming rays of the sun. A good book, super swim suit or a frisbee might be all you need to enjoy a sojourn to the beach. Any combination of these would make a wonderful respite from the hurly burly of the ordinary world. Look a little further and you can see you that trip to the beach can take you farther a field (or asea as the case may be) to an alien world in your back yard. Shelling, walking along the beach to collect the bounty of beauty the gulf offers is a long respected manner of spending time on sandy shores. In finding those amazing jewels of the sea, you sometimes encounter alien seeming life forms that are best enjoyed where one finds them, leaving them to their own journey that we might see them again. Among these are starfish and the sand dollar, each echinoderms whose extra-terrestrial world is actually our nearby salty brine.
Starfish (Sea Star)-
Right off the bat we know are not addressing this lovely friend appropriately for it is not a fish at all! There are over 2000 different types of Sea Stars out there, the most common variety having 5 arms but according to National Geographic, there are some with 10, 20 and 40 arms! The most astounding thing to many is their ability to regenerate an arm if it is lost (PLEASE DO NOT INJURE THEM IN ANY WAY) sometimes simply regenerating FROM the severed limb. Some of them look delicate and frail and others look downright foreign, with spines and and suction cups. These suction cups work to pry shells open allowing the Sea Star stomach to ooze within the shell, consume the prey and return to it's own body. Alien indeed!
One ususally doesn't think of this pale, bleached skeletal disk as having ever been hairy but while they live, their hairs have hairs! They, like you and I have, cilia, though for different purposes. For them it is about transportation and nutrition. They also have only 5 teeth, or tooth like appendages that make chewing incredibly slow. They can be found in groups in the hundreds and will often be tilted in the sand on their edge. These interesting creatures have left reproducing to the young themselves; spraying egg and sperm into open water and nature simply takes it's course.