Cushion star

Asterina gibbosa


A small, flattened starfish found on all western and southern coasts of the British Isles but not on the North Sea. A characteristic component of the intertidal fauna, commonly found under boulders or in crevices on rocky shores. Like many other starfish, the species is an omnivore, inverting its stomach in order to ingest its food ranging from molluscs, worms and ophiuroids. They are found munching on decaying seaweeds and dead invertebrates. 


How to identify

A small starfish that grows up to 5cm, with 5 (or sometimes even 4 or 6) very short, broad arms. The dorsal surface is rough with projecting spines. The ventral surface is flat, with the mouth at the centre. Each of the mouth's plates bear two spines. It's colour varies but is most commonly brown, green or orange. Some mottled individuals also exist within some populations.

Where to find it

Common on all British coasts but sparse in the north-east and not recorded from Lincolnshire around to Hampshire. Commonly found under boulders and stones or in rockpools or in crevices on rocky shores. Sometimes found in shallow water in sheltered localities.


When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people 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. This work has recently had a massive boost with the passing of the Marine Bill, promising sustainable development of the UK's marine environment. Do your bit for our Living Seas by supporting your local Wildlife Trust. You can also help by reporting your sightings to Devon Wildlife Trust or to the Devon Biodiversity Records Centre.

Species information

Common name
Cushion star
Latin name
Asterina gibbosa
Urchins and starfish
Diameter: 5cm Lifepsan: 7 years
Conservation status