• Scenic View from Inspiration Point, Anacapa Island ©timhaufphotography.com

    Channel Islands

    National Park California

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  • Santa Barbara Island Closed Due to Storm Damage

    Santa Barbara Island is currently closed to public access due to damage from the high surf associated with Hurricane Marie. More »

  • San Miguel Island Closure

    In the interest of public safety, the U.S. Navy is closing San Miguel Island until further notice due to recent concerns of possible unexploded ordnance. More »

Sunflower Star


Common Name
Sunflower Star

Scientific Name
Pycnopodia helianthoides

Near-shore sand and rocky bottom.

Additional Information
The magnificent sunflower star inhabits low intertidal and subtidal areas ranging from Alaska to San Diego, California. Juvenile stars begin life with 5 arms, but once mature, adults have close to 24! They have very soft, spongy skin that comes in a kaleidoscope of colors - purple, green, brown, orange, pink and yellow. They are the largest sea star in the kelp forest reaching lengths of over a meter from tip to tip.

The sunflower star is a voracious predator often traveling up to 40 inches per minute to chase down its prey. This unique species of sea star has a skeleton composed of disconnected pieces. This allows for them to open their mouths wide enough to engulf large prey. They eat sea urchins, snails, clams, sea cucumbers, crabs and even other sea stars.

Did You Know?


Channel Islands National Park has more endangered species that only exist within this park than any other unit of the National Park Service. This means that survival of these plants and animals depends entirely on our ability to protect and restore the habitat of the five park islands.