Most people who live near ocean shores are familiar with starfish (or sea stars, as they are more properly called) for they are often seen dead on the shore. The more common starfish are colored bright orange, red or brown. They are a true star shape, with five tapered arms extending out to rounded points from the center. But there are many varieties, some with as many as 50 spidery arms. The surface of the arms are rough and usually spiny.
A very colorful variety is the brittle star which moves rapidly through the water by thrashing its arms vigorously. This variety got its name because its brittle arms are easily shattered by crabs and large fish that then eat the broken pieces.
With few other exceptions starfish appear to be stationary or just moving gently with the current. But the Creator did not leave them without a means of travel. Using suction cups (or pads) on the underside of each arm, they pull themselves an inch at a time over the ocean bottom, onto a rock, a piling, or other object.
It is with these sensitive arms and the suction cups that starfish probe for and capture food. When a shellfish, such as a clam or oyster, is found, the suction cups of one arm grasp it firmly on one side and another arm clings to the other side. Then a contest takes place -- the clam pulling its two shell halves tightly together and the starfish trying to pull them apart. In the end it is always a hopeless battle for the shellfish, as its enemy will relentlessly pull on the two sides for an hour or more, until the victim has no more strength left to resist. When the shells finally open, the starfish pulls its stomach (located on its underside) over the clam or oyster, surrounding it, and slowly digests it.
Fishermen, angry because so many shellfish were being eaten by starfish, used to pull them from the water, tear off their arms, and throw them back to die in the ocean. What they did not know was that such pieces do not die -- each piece soon becomes another full-grown starfish! When the fishermen finally discovered that they were actually adding to the population of these creatures, they immediately discontinued the practice!
Starfish do not have the benefit of an intellect. We do not expect them to be aware that a divine Creator rules over the sea and its inhabitants. Our opening verse reminds us that He does, and another Bible verse says, "The LORD is good to all: and His tender mercies are over all His works" (Psalm 145:9).
We, who have been given the ability to know of Him, His wonderful works, and His great love to us, are responsible to act on God's Word expressed by the Psalmist: "Oh that men would praise the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!" (Psalm 107:8). Have you ever done this?
Copied with permission from Messages of God's Love. More articles in The Wonders of God's Creation (Volume 1-4) by Sidney R. Gill, also published by Bible Truth Publishers.