FINEST FLOWER of the filter feeders, according to many observers, the sea pen (left) can, if attacked, disappear quickly into the sand by expelling water from its normally inflated body. Among the strait’s most impressive creatures, sea pens are frequently displayed in public aquariums. When stroked, they luminescent a soft green due to a chemical reaction in their cells. Against a backdrop of sea anemones, a giant octopus (right) propels itself by jetting water past its eight sucker-covered arms. At home in cold water and warm, octopuses thrive in the strait and throughout the North Pacific, where they have been known to grow to 150 pounds. Along with squids, which can reach half a ton, octopuses are the most highly developed of the thousands of mollusk species. Evidence indicates they have well-developed brains, and their eyesight rivals that of man. Long considered a delicacy by many of the world’s people, octopus has been slowly gaining popularity in British Columbia fish markets. Stars in a new firmament WING WALL in the living sea, a congregation of purple sea stars could easily lose a member if an orange cousin should decide to stay for dinner. One of few stars that prey on their own kind, Sol aster Dawson can easily turn its stomach inside out and digest relatives of its own sizethough the meal may take several days. On the harmless side of a purple Sol aster, a black eye goby (above) faces no danger, since the sea star can eat only what it can crawl over. Inhabitants of the strait’s intertidal zones, great colonies of sea stars are regularly seen exposed on inshore rocks at low tide. To visitors along the coast of British Columbia’s inland sea, such encounters can give the impressionnot far from wrongof a marine life so rich it has spilled over into our own world.
Arms of the sea