Cozumel Sea Stars

Please Don’t Touch the Sea Stars

Photo Courtesy of Dana Flynn

The Sea Star population in Cozumel is on the decline due to human interaction, here’s a few reasons you should never touch or remove them from the water


According to a representative from the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) the sea star population in the popular snorkel area “El Cielo” has suffered a drastic reduction, estimated at nearly 20% in the last

5 years, due to human interaction.  Although the area falls within the National Marine Park of Cozumel, “Arrecifes de Cozumel”  reports still surface of tourists removing the invertebrate from the ocean.  In a recent interview, Cristopher Gonzalez Baca from CONANP, urged watersport operators to act as guardians of Cozumel’s natural resources and to educate their guests not to touch or remove the sea stars.

Sea stars extract oxygen from sea water so when they are removed from the water, it’s possible they can actually “suffocate” in the air.  Also, the tiny suction cup “feet” (or ampulla) is where the oxygen is extracted is composed of a very tender tissue, and cilia, which is also easily damaged by handling.


The majority of the sea stars found in Cozumel waters are red cushion sea stars, or as they are known in latin, Oreaster reticulatus.  Summer is their breeding season.  They have a hard surface with blunt spines, and range in color from red, yellow to even brown.

Image courtesy of Conanp Cozumel

Image courtesy of Conanp Cozumel

Por favor no toquen las estrellas de mar

La población de las estrellas de mar en Cozumel va en descenso debido a la interacción humana. Aquí presentamos algunas de las razones por qué no deben tocarlas ni sacarlas del mar …

De acuerdo a un representante de la Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas (CONANP) la población de estrellas de mar que reside en la popular zona de práctica de esnórquel conocida como El Cielo, ha sufrido una dramática reducción en los últimos 5 años y que se estima sea casi 20%; ello debido a la interacción de los humanos. No obstante que el área se encuentra dentro de el

Photo Courtesy of Kent Avery

Parque Marino Nacional de Cozumel “Arrecifes de Cozumel”, continúan saliendo reportes de turistas que retiran a los invertebrados del océano. En una entrevista reciente, Cristopher González Baca de la CONANP exhortó a los operadores de deportes acuáticos para que éstos actúen como protectores de los recursos naturales de Cozumel y que instruyan a sus clientes para que no toquen ni retiren las estrellas de mar.

Las estrellas de mar extraen oxígeno del agua, por ello, es posible que al retirarlas del mar se “asfixien” en el aire. Asimismo, sus “pies” en forma de pequeñas ventosas (o ampollas), donde se extrae el oxígeno, se componen de tejido suave y epitelio ciliar que también se dañan con facilidad al manipular.

La mayoría de las estrellas de mar que se encuentran en las aguas de Cozumel son las estrellas cojín, o como se les conoce en latín Oreaster reticulatus. La temporada de apareamiento es durante el verano. Su superficie es dura con espinas gruesas, y sus colores pueden ser rojo, amarillo e incluso café.

Laura Wilkinson

Author at Cozumel 4 You
Laura Wilkinson is the Editor for Cozumel 4 You. An ex-Connecticut Yankee who has called Cozumel home for over 15 years, Laura ran away to the Caribbean years ago, bumped around the islands teaching SCUBA diving, lost some time in Jamaica, and finally stopped in Cozumel for a 2 week vacation that hasn’t ended yet. With a degree in Journalism from a fancy private college she convinced her parents to pay for, Laura writes, edits, and creates the weekly Cozumel 4 You news, promotional articles about the island, and her very own blog, which she finds hilarious. Her long suffering husband, the Fabster, has long since resigned himself to having zero private life, as he’s been involved in her various schemes and plots since his arrival. Proud parents to a variety of rescue dogs and cats, Laura continues to be the bane of her traditional Mexican mother-in-law’s existence, as she muses her way through life in the Mexican Caribbean.

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1 Comment
  1. P Maureen Deacon 12 months ago

    Thanks for the article on the sea stars. How do you get local tour boat operators to leave them alone? I was on a boat out to El Cielo and was searching the waters for a sea star and one of the crew picked one up to show me. Thankfully he didn’t take it out of the water. I asked him urgently,several times, to please put it down which he finally did.

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