Northern Pacific Seastar Removal

Not all the marine life residing in Port Phillip Bay is good for the environment and the Northern Pacific Seastar is a good example of how one species can do much to damage the native marine environment.

The Northern Pacific Seastar (Asterias amuensis) has five arms with pointed tips and is mottled yellow and purple in colour. It is native to the north-eastern Pacific, around Japan, Korea, Russia and China. The Northern Pacific Seastar was discovered in Port Phillip Bay in 1995, where it has been introduced in the ballast from container ships from the Northern Pacific and is now widespread.

Colour variance of the Northern Pacific Seastar.

The colour variance of the Northern Pacific Seastar.

While it is not currently possible to rid the Bay of this exotic species, you can help minimise its impact on other native marine fauna.

Since 2008, Earthcare St Kilda has been removing these Northern Pacific seastars from the seagrass beds in St Kilda Harbour. This activity has expanded to include removal at Brighton Sea Baths, starting in 2012.

Once a month, volunteers attempt to minimise the impact of Northern Pacific Seastars on the native habitat in the St Kilda harbour and near Brighton Sea Baths – homes to our own native seastars and Rakali – by removing these exotic seastars by hand.

The Water Team consists of volunteer licensed divers, snorkelers and people who are willing to wade to pick out any Northern Pacific Seastars sighted by hand. Divers and snorkelers should wear wetsuits, and booties and suitable footwear for all Water Team members is highly recommended to protect against cuts and stings.

Seastar ThinningA second Land Based Team assist in the counting, weighing and measuring of seastars removed.

A video of a Ten News story (on 3 April 2011) on Northern Pacific Sea Stars with Earthcare St Kilda volunteers filmed and interviewed.

The Port Phillip EcoCentre with Earthcare St Kilda has published a set of Best Practise Guidelines for the removal of Northern Pacific Seastar from Port Phillip Bay, read it here.

2019 Northern Pacific Seastar Removal Programme

We will be located on the floating pontoon on the right-hand side of St Kilda Pier.

Date Location Meet at Time
Sunday 7th April St Kilda Pier At start of St.Kilda Pier 9.30 am
Sunday 5th May St Kilda Pier At start of St.Kilda Pier 9.30 am
Sunday 16th June St Kilda Pier At start of St.Kilda Pier 9.00 am
Sunday 7th July St Kilda Pier At start of St.Kilda Pier 9.30 am
Sunday 4th August St Kilda Pier At start of St.Kilda Pier 9.30 am

Further Details

Although Earthcare holds permits for St Kilda, Brighton, Port Melbourne and Wyndham Harbour, these dates are all for St Kilda as it still seems to be the place to be if you are a Northern Pacific Seastar! We will be on the lookout in case a constellation of seastars forms in other places, so the location could change with short notice.

This activity is open to both members of Earthcare St Kilda and local residents.

For further information and to register for this activity, please email us.

Please note this activity may be cancelled at short notice.