Guest Posts, Starfish

The Truth Behind the Starfish…A Guest Post by Jim Weinpress

Note from Liz:

I’m thrilled to introduce you to my second guest blogger, Jim Weinpress.  He is one of my very favorite people on the planet, and not just because we’re related.  With many years of experience working with animals, he brings a fresh perspective to Starfish Diaries, and I think you’ll love it as much as I did!  Here’s Jim.

Starfish Diaries; an up and coming blog about living a happy, healthy life while learning the importance of loving yourself for better or for worse. I get it and I’m into it.  However, after working for almost a decade in the field of animal care, my initial thoughts go directly to a literal interpretation of this blog’s title. What would a starfish write about in its journal? Which arm would they choose to write with? They have anywhere from 5 to 40 depending on the species, of which there are roughly 2,000 described thus far. What would be on their minds? They certainly aren’t vegan; hunting and preying on a number of different marine species, but they do only eat locally grown items.

So there’s that.

I decided after some intense thought, and plenty of reading up on starfish, I would dedicate this guest blog to sharing with you how starfish themselves reflect upon us the same wisdom of this blog and why you should appreciate these remarkable animals…for better or for worse.

We all know that living a good life begins and ends with honesty. This is true for the relationships we build with others to understanding our own strengths and weaknesses through introspection. Starfish, though, are lying to themselves. They aren’t fish. Far from it, actually.  Starfish are echinoderms, invertebrates that are related to sea urchins and sand dollars. A more appropriate nickname is the sea star but for the sake of this blog we’ll humor them just this one time.

A key component to physical health is getting outside and exercising! The hugely beneficial practice of yoga, a frequent topic in this blog, is enjoying mainstream popularity now and for good reason. It strengthens the muscles, builds endurance, and gives one ample time to meditate and reflect upon oneself. Starfish may appear rigid and immobile at first glance, but if you’re patient and have an hour or two to kill while you’re out snorkeling, they’ll show you their ability to move throughout their complex marine environment with unbelievable agility and efficiency. Starfish use water, not blood, to power their limbs to move relying on hundreds of small tubular feet on their underside to cling to whatever surface they choose. This is a far cry from the rigid skeletons you see for sale at cheesy tourist traps.

Lastly, let’s touch upon diet. Eating foods free of preservatives, excess sodium, and sugar (you know all the stuff that makes bad food DELICIOUS) is the best way to stay fit and feel energized. You really won’t experience the best results of regular exercise unless you pair it with a healthy diet to match. So here we have a starfish that isn’t a fish, and looks more like a ninja weapon than anything lifelike. Leave it to an extraordinary animal to eat in an extraordinary way. Once a starfish locates a prey item; usually a mollusk like a clam or mussel, they use those powerful water powered arms to force open the shell. When the shell is opened they push out their stomachs through the opening in the underside of their bodies and engulf them, leaving only the leftover shell. You read correctly, they barf up their stomachs. This gives whole new meaning to the saying “Let’s get take-out!” Yum! And much like me during my college years, many species of starfish are opportunistic feeders, consuming anything they can find. This includes scallops, oysters, sand dollars, dead fish, sponges, plankton, and coral.

In conclusion, we can learn a lot from the humble starfish. These unique animals quietly live their lives the best they can, making the most of being a small invertebrate in a big ocean. And when life get them down, they grow from their mistakes. Literally. They can grow back entire arms and sections of their bodies! Now if that’s not inspirational then I don’t know what is! Nature is crazy! Now go live your life and be happy and healthy. And next time you’re swimming around in the ocean and you catch a glimpse of a starfish, take an extra moment to admire these spectacular creatures!

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