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How to Find Starfish in Florida

In this article, I show you how to find starfish in Florida. Learn about the best shelling beach in Florida, where to find starfish, and more.

In order to find Starfish in Florida, you will need to venture out in the water.

So, I recommend you purchase decent snorkel gear to make your time finding starfish in Florida more enjoyable, comfortable, and productive. 

To make it easy, I included the snorkel gear and camera gear I use to find starfish.

Waterproof Bag
Snorkel Mask Set
Mask Anti Fog Spray
Kids Snorkel Full Face Mask
Short Fins
Inflatable Life Vest Waist Strap
Waterproof Phone Bag
GoPro Hero
Head Strap for GoPro
GoPro Diving Stick

Where to Find Starfish in Florida?

The best place to find starfish in Florida beaches is between the first and second sandbar. 

second sandbar destin florida beach

In addition, you will likely find sand dollars and seashells in this area as well.

find sand dollars in Destin Florida
seashell with living creature inside

How to Find Starfish in Florida

Finding starfish at the beach in Florida requires practice on sandy beaches.  

Starfish normally sit on top of the sand or just below the sand off the beach.

find starfish on the beach

Furthermore, starfish bury themselves in sand to protect themselves from predators.

find starfish on the beach in Florida

Obviously, this makes them difficult to find.

First, try to find the starfish in the pictures below.
Then, scroll below to view the same picture with red arrows to find the starfish.

how to find starfish
how to find starfish
how to find starfish
how to find starfish

Rocky Areas

Starfish like underwater rocky areas.

They hide under rocks from predators and catch their prey.

If I can’t find starfish at the beach, I snorkel the east and west jetties in Destin, Florida.

destin, florida jetties

Find Starfish Prey

In addition, the best strategy to find any organism is to learn the behaviors of their food source.  

Starfish feed on crustaceans and mollusks, so find their food to find them.

Starfish on the Beach

If snorkeling is not an option for you, I recommend finding starfish on the beach shore.

Often times, starfish on the beach shore are damaged from the breaking waves.

Low tide is the best time to find starfish that get stranded from the receding water from high tide.

Collecting Starfish in Florida

Before I decide to collect a starfish, I like to know what type I am grabbing.  

Some starfish are poisonous and others are protected by the Wildlife and Fisheries (like the Bahama/Cushion Sea Star).

Once I find a starfish, I make sure I can clearly identify the species before collecting it.

I like to dig my hand under the sand and use the sand to collect starfish.

where to find starfish in Florida

Furthermore, I only pickup live starfish for a few seconds to take a quick photo.

After, I place it back where I found it.

I always keep the starfish underwater and a few inches from its original location while taking pictures.

Florida Shelling Laws

First, laws tend to confuse people.
So, a good rule of thumb to follow when collecting starfish on the beach is:

  • Leave it alone if the starfish is alive.
  • If you aren’t sure of the laws, leave it alone.

While it is legal at most beaches to collect dead starfish, it is illegal to collect live starfish and other sea creatures.

Ultimately, I encourage you to read the laws before you start collecting starfish.

How To Tell if a Starfish is Dead

First, starfish have thousands of tentacles called tube feet located on the underside of each arm.

If these tentacles move, the starfish is alive.

The dead starfish normally look bald with no tiny hairs and appear brittle and white.

collecting dead starfish in florida

Furthermore, starfish are not always dead just because they are missing a limb – more on this later.  

Types of Florida Starfish

Of the many types of starfish in Florida, I find 2 sea star species most often in Destin, Florida – the Royal Starfish (Sea Star) and the Two-Spined Starfish (Sea Star)

The Royal Starfish is pictured below.

find royal starfish

Starfish Fun Facts

Starfish are not only beautiful, but they are also unique and fascinating creatures.

What do Starfish Eat?

In addition, Starfish are carnivores and feed on mollusks and crustaceans as I mentioned earlier.  

They also will become cannibals if their food supply diminishes.

When starfish capture prey, they use tiny suction cups to grab their food. 

Also, their stomach exits their mouth to digest the food, and reenters the body afterwards.

Starfish have no brain and no blood.

They use filtered sea water to pump nutrients through their nervous system.  

What is a Starfish?

Starfish, also known as sea stars, are echinoderms.

They are related to sand dollars and sea urchins.  

While most starfish have 5 limbs, there are some species with many more limbs.  

They can rejuvenate a lost limb, but it can take up to a year.

starfish broken arm

Starfish Feet

Starfish have tiny suctions cups on each limb referred to as feet.

Each limb can contain up to 15,000 feet that move in caterpillar-like synchronization.  

Their feet can form a glue that will bond indefinitely with a rock or prey item.

In addition, they have an adjacent tube releasing a solvent to release the bond once the starfish is ready to move on.

Furthermore, Starfish have eyes located at the end of each limb, but scientists are baffled as to how they can see without a brain.

Some starfish in the Pacific Northwest can measure one meter across and weigh up to 11 pounds.

Also, some species of starfish live up to 35 years. 

Where do Starfish Live?

Obviously, you must learn where starfish live in order to learn how to find starfish in Florida.

They thrive in warmer climates and some species live in colder climates as well.  

Additionally, Starfish can only live in salt water.

How Do Starfish Reproduce?

Sea stars are broadcast spawners.

The cushion starfish are always born as male and switch to female later in life.

They can also switch their gender at will depending on various conditions.  

Males release sperm into the water and females release eggs.

The fertilized eggs hatch into a larval form that lives as plankton, sometimes for months, before settling on the sea floor in its adult form.


In conclusion, I hope you learned more about these wonderful creatures.

While learning how to find starfish in Florida, I hope you gained a deeper understanding and appreciation for these wonderful creatures.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to Find Starfish in Florida?

To find a starfish in Florida, search the beach shore, in the ocean, or in rocky areas underwater. To find starfish at the beach, search on top of the sand or just below the sand between the first and second sandbar. Additionally, search the beach shore during low tide for sea stars.find royal starfish in florida

Is it illegal to take starfish in Florida?

While it is legal at most beaches to collect dead starfish, it is illegal to take starfish in Florida. If you collecct a live creature from their natural habitat can result in expensive fines.

At what age do starfish die?

On average, sea stars live for 35 years.

How can you tell if a starfish is alive?

To tell if a starfish is alive, check the tentacles called tube feet located on the underside of each arm. If these tentacles move, the starfish is alive.