Chocolate Chip Starfish


Commonly know as a Sea Star or Starfish
Scientific Name: Protoreaster nodosus

Category: Saltwater Invertebrates
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Echinodermata
Class: Asteroidea
Order: Valvatida
Family: Oreasteridae
Genus: Protoreaster
Species: nodosus

General Information

Starfish can be found in warm areas of the Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. They live in shallow tidal pools and reefs up to 100 feet deep. They feed on sponges, bacteria, waste products and the remains of dead plants and animals. Starfish hunt with their sense of smell.

One may wonder how a starfish can eat because they do not have a mouth visible from above. Their mouth is actually on the underside of the starfish's body. In order to pick up the food they consume, they cover the food with their body and push out their stomach from the inside.


Starfish spawn which means they release eggs and sperm into the open ocean at the same time. Females can produce up to 65 million eggs per spawning season. During spawning season thousands of starfish gather and release sperm and eggs into the ocean. The egg and sperm join and produce many tiny sea stars which float in the water like little blobs that later form into a star shape.

They can also asexually reproduce. They also can regenerate their body. If a predator attacks them and eats or rips off an arm they can regenerate arms. As long as the main body is still intact they can re-grow.

Photography Techniques

The first step in photographing a starfish is to set up a mini ocean aquarium. Then place the starfish in a small fish tank filled with salt water, an air pump, and a filter.

By using short and long focal lengths I was able to show the entire starfish and also parts of the starfish enlarged.

In order to have control over where the light is coming from, one could use a fiber optic flash system that has three different light sources to place around the subject.

Equipment Used

Camera Used: Nikon D1X and D2X

Lenses: 105mm Nikon Macro Lens and 40mm Zeiss thimble lens

Aperture: f/32 or closed down all the way

Lighting:Fiber optic flash unit

About the Photographer

I am currently a student at Rochester Institute of Technology in the Biomedical Photography program. RIT has the only programs that students can explore scientific photography. After I graduate with a Bachelors of Science in Biomedical Photography I want to keep my options open to all fields in photography.





All images created by,
Jaclyn Pisano

Any questions?

Return to index of articles written by students on the 'Principles and techniques of photomacrography' course, November 2004,
Biomedical Photographic Communications (BPC)
program at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).

Article hosted on Micscape Magazine (Microscopy-UK).

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