Super Stars of the Sea

Image source: Contributed

The revamped Tidal Touchpool at SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast has had a renovation fit for the super stars that live there. Carlie Wacker dipped her hands in to find out more about these fascinating creatures.

The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” – Jacques Cousteau

I find endless joy and curiosity in the sea and its inhabitants. After watching the 2020 film My Octopus Teacher, I became obsessed with all things tentacled and following my recent experience at the Tidal Touchpool at SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast I am now on a journey to find out as much as I can about the spiky, fun and fascinating marine life that can be found in local tide pools on the coast.

There is a real buzz of excitement as you enter SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast at The Wharf Mooloolaba because the spell of the sea is real. The ocean is full of the most breathtaking life and this is the place you can get up close and personal with all types of unusual and wonderful aquatic animals.

The revamped Tidal Touchpool is where you can literally get hands-on with animals of the ocean under the guidance of a team of passionate marine education experts. 

The new lighting, updated graphics and a camera allows a close-up view of the creatures; there is also helpful signage with fascinating facts and a new talk from the aquarium’s marine experts.

Did you know that sea stars and sea urchins are part of the Phylum Echinodermata family and some of their characteristics are spiky skin and they don’t have a heart or brain?

The sea cucumber has soft spikes and feels a bit like a caterpillar; while the sea stars are much rougher and a bit like leather to touch. Even though I spend a lot of time in the ocean I have never had the chance to feel these creatures so the Tidal Touchpool experience is breathtaking.

The staff share their extensive knowledge as you meet and touch the thorny chocolate chip, pin cushion and blue sea stars plus sea urchins and cucumbers.

Even though these living creatures have no heart or brain they have some very impressive attributes that keep the human science world intrigued. For example, the starfish can lose an arm and regrow it (just like an octopus) but the sea star arm can successfully form into a whole new sea star. For both these reasons scientists continue to study this in the aim to replicate this limb generation in humans.

Sea stars can have 4 or 5 arms, some can have up to 20. They don’t have eyes, but they have eyespots at the end of each arm that can identify light and dark. Each arm has two rows of hundreds of sticky feet that allow them to travel but also stay secure and not be washed away.

Their mouth is underneath them and their anus is in the middle on the top (so best you stroke their arms only). They pump water instead of blood and are super smart. The colour and spiky appearance are important in their survival as it makes them look less tasty to predators and the blue sea star’s vibrant colour makes them appear poisonous.

There is so much to love about these quirky creatures. The marine experts at SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast excitedly share their knowledge and the chance to immerse yourself in sea life is very special. 

SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast have some kids Beneath the Tide activity sheets to help them uncover more of the wonders of marine life but it’s definitely not just for kids – this is something for everyone to experience. Go get your hands wet and meet these super stars of the sea!

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About the Author /

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Carlie Wacker has worked in the media entertainment industry for over 20 years. From television to stage and radio she has been lucky enough to work her way around the whole country. Over the last 10 years she has styled and choreographed innovative fashion parades and talent shows and brings her love for fashion and entertainment as our Fashion Editor. She is also an MC, voice-over artist and radio announcer.

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