Why You Should NEVER Take A Starfish Out Of The Water!

Etoile de Mer Philippines Honda Bay Puerto Princesa Starfish Island

I’ve been wanting to write this blog post for quite some time now so here I am, very excited to tell you about this important cause! Let me start with a confession first. I am guilty of having stupidly pulled out a starfish out of the water to take a picture of it during a trip in the Philippines.

Why You Should NEVER Take A Starfish Out Of The Water!

It was in Siquijor Island (the island of the witches) in the Philippines and I wasn’t really aware of what I was doing. I am usually very careful not to do anything that could have a negative impact on the environment when I travel but that time, I wasn’t careful enough. When a friend I met in the Philippines explained to me the consequences of what I did, I honestly felt very small.

Nevertheless, I wanted to react positively and try to spread the message as widely as possible so that people become better informed and avoid making the same mistake.

Are Starfish Animals or Plants?

Even though the shape and skin of starfish make it even more difficult to decide, they’re definitely animals and not plants! This is an important distinction people need to make because it means that starfish breathe under water and that their organism is designed to live exclusively under water. Too strange to believe? Here’s your proof:

As you probably already know, starfish have 5 arms and are generally very colorful. And that’s probably why they attract so much attention. They also have the incredible ability to regenerate themselves. Some species manage to regrow lost arms and sometimes their whole body from a single arm!

Why you should avoid any interaction with starfish

Before we get to the issue of pulling starfish out of the water, I also think it is important to point out that people are still collecting starfish, drying them out and using them for decoration purposes. This is of course unacceptable and by now, we all understand why.

Moreover, taking starfish out of the water can seriously affect their health. First of all, because those animals breathe under water and can only do so in that environment. Getting a starfish out of the water means that it will not be able to breathe as long as it is out of the water. The risk of asphyxiation is therefore undeniable.

Not only that but being exposed directly to the open air causes significant damage to its skin, even if you do it quickly. Finally, touching a starfish could expose it to compounds that might not be harmful to you but are harmful to its species. Sunscreens for example can be very toxic to starfish.

The take-home message is very simple: avoid all interactions and physical contact with starfish as much as possible. It is indeed an intriguing animal but it will never be as beautiful as it is in its natural environment. The picture below was taken at Starfish Island in Honda Bay, not far from Puerto Princesa, in the Philippines.

Why you should avoid any interaction with starfish

By the way, from my point of view, this is one of the best beaches in the Philippines!

Let’s be responsible travelers

I don’t mean to be preachy or anything but let’s all be responsible travelers and outstanding citizens of the world. Traveling is a wonderful experience and if we want to keep enjoying beautiful landscapes, we must protect our environment.

Like I said, I’m not lecturing anyone here. I’m mostly informing you so that you can act according to your morals and principals. What’s important is not to avoid making mistakes. We all make and will keep making mistakes. I most definitely will too but what’s important is:

  • to acknowledge one’s mistakes,
  • to react in order to stop making them,
  • and finally to inform one’s entourage so they do their best to avoid them too.

If we all follow these guidelines, I’m sure our planet will get better.

I encourage you all to share this post to spread this important message. I was very pleased with people’s reaction to my Oslob whale shark post and I hope this one will have the same impact on readers and travelers and will save a lot of beautiful starfish.

See you around,


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  1. This is very helpful and inspiring! We should also take care of the starfish and other fishes in the water. Keep spreading good ideas to others!

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