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New insight into sea star survival skills


Narrator:       This is Science Today. Intertidal ecosystems, which are marked by high and low tides, are rich in invertebrates and algae. When the tide goes out, intertidal species, such as ochre sea stars, are left clinging to rocks, exposed for hours to the drying effects of the sun.

Sanford:         We used to think that sea stars were really at the mercy of the sun at low tide, but we've been really surprised to find that sea stars have a remarkable backup strategy.

Narrator:        Researcher Eric Sanford of the University of California, Davis, has been monitoring ochre sea stars at the Bodega Bay Marine Lab to track how global warming may affect marine ecosystems. Sanford explains that when the tide comes back in, the sea stars actually suck up a huge volume of cold water that serves as a reservoir the following day when the tide goes back out.

Sanford:         It's like if we could look at the weather forecast and realize that the next day was going to be really hot and we could suck up over 15 pounds of water into our body and then have that water to cool us the next day. That's essentially what's going on with this sea star.

Narrator:       For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.