Common Sunstar

Common Sunstar ©Linda Pitkin/2020VISION

Common sunstar

Scientific name: Crossaster papposus
This large starfish looks just like the sun, with 10-12 arms spreading outwards like rays.

Species information


Diameter: 35cm

Conservation status


When to see

January to December


The Common sunstar is a type of starfish, with 10-12 short arms that look like sun rays. It has an orangey-red disc (the centre) with beautiful concentric bands of yellow, orange, pink or white. The Sunstar is an echinoderm - which means "spiny skinned" and it lives up to the name as it is covered in small spines. It lives on the seabed in shallow waters close to the shore as well as down to depths of 50m. Small Sunstars are sometimes found in rockpools, so keep an eye out next time you're at the beach.

How to identify

The Common sunstar is usually orangey-red in colour with concentric bands of yellow, pink, red or white on the arms. It is sun-shaped, with more arms than other starfish: normally 10-12, but occasionally 8-16.


Found all around our coasts.

Did you know?

The Common sunstar is a voracious predator, feeding on sea cucumbers, brittlestars, starfish and even other sunstars!

How people can help

Our seas and coastline are in need of protection if we are to keep our marine wildlife healthy. The Wildlife Trusts are working with fishermen, researchers, politicians and local people towards a vision of 'Living Seas', where marine wildlife thrives. Do your bit for our Living Seas by supporting your local Wildlife Trust or check out our Action pages.