• Otávio Santiago

Award-Winning Photo Captures The Grisly Spectacle of Starfish Swarming to Feed

An award-winning photographer has captured the somber moment when dozens of colorful starfish set about devouring a lifeless sea lion on the seafloor in California.

Wildlife photographer David Slater captured the haunting photo in the shallow waters of Monterey Bay. The dead sea lion and its compatriots swimming in the background are most likely California sea lions (Zalophus californianus), but they could also be Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus), based on the two species' geographical ranges.

The sea stars are all bat stars (Patiria miniata), scavenging starfish that come in a wide range of colors. The bat stars play a key role in recycling the sea lion into energy and nutrients, returning its remains to the marine food web.

The eerie image recently won first place in the "Aquatic Life" category at the California Academy of Science's Big Picture Competition.

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