Video Why tag a starfish?

TLF ID M008896

This is a colour video clip in which biologist Dr Miles Lamare of the University of Otago talks about the advantages of using electronic tags to study sea stars. He explains how the tags operate, the data they provide and how unusual it is for them to be used on invertebrates. Sequences showing tags on sea stars and other animals, and Dr Lamare at work in the laboratory, are included.

Educational details

Educational value
  • Sea stars belong to the phylum Echinodermata, an exclusively marine group that also includes sea urchins, sea cucumbers, brittle stars and feather stars. Many species of sea stars have five arms, but some have more. Commonly known as starfish, sea stars are invertebrates and should not be confused with true fish, which are vertebrates.
  • The tags shown in this clip are small electronic data loggers known as archival tags. They can store a continuous record of variables such as time, depth, water temperature and salinity, which is retrieved when the tag is recovered. This allows scientists to follow the sea stars' movements over a period of several weeks.
  • Archival tags have an advantage over traditional methods of observation because they allow for continuous monitoring of the sea stars. Previously, divers observed sea stars at specific locations but, because sea stars move slowly, this gave the impression that they do not move about their environment a great deal. The tags showed that the sea stars moved about much more than previously recognised.
  • Dr Lamare's team developed an innovative method for attaching the tags to sea stars. Attempts to attach them using a harness failed because the sea stars were able to manoeuvre out of the device. Eventually, a method of attaching the tag by piercing one arm of the sea star with a stainless steel loop was devised and found to cause little stress to the animals.
Year level

5; 6; 7; 8; 9

Learning area
  • Science

Other details

  • Contributor
  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
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  • Publisher
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
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  • Name: University of Waikato
  • Organization: University of Waikato
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: NEW ZEALAND
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  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
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  • Generic
Learning Resource Type
  • Video
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