Bloody Henry starfish

Henricia oculata

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  2. Urchins and starfish
  3. Bloody Henry starfish


The Bloody Henry is applied to two very similar starfish, Henricia oculata and H sanguinolenta, difficult to distinguish in the field unless two specimens are examined side by side. The Henricia oculata species is the most common of the two, occurring along the Atlantic coasts of northwest Europe, where it inhabits a variety of substrata on open coasts; and around western and southern coastal areas of the UK. 

The species is also less predatory than other starfish, feeding mainly on floating plankton and suspended matter. It will also consume sponges, hydroids and ectoprocts.

How to identify

Large in size, on average growing 100 mm in diameter. However, the species can grow up to double that. A stiff rigid starfish with a sandpapery texture to the dorsal surface. Its colour varies in reds, browns, purples and yellows. Often, the disc and inner portions of their arms are much darker than their outer parts.

Where to find it

The commonest species of Henricia around the British Isles. Occurrence ranges from low inter-tidal zones to at least a 50 m depth. Also found on stones, shells, and gravel around western and northern coasts of the British Isles.


When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

Our seas and coastline are in need of protection if we are to keep our marine wildlife healthy. The Wildlife Trusts are working with fishermen, researchers, politicians and local people towards a vision of 'Living Seas', where marine wildlife thrives. This work has recently had a massive boost with the passing of the Marine Bill, promising sustainable development of the UK's marine environment. Do your bit for our Living Seas by supporting your local Wildlife Trust. You can also help by reporting your sightings to Devon Wildlife Trust or to the Devon Biodiversity Records Centre.

Species information

Common name
Bloody Henry starfish
Latin name
Henricia oculata
Urchins and starfish
Diameter: 100 mm
Conservation status
Classed as ‘data deficient’ for purposes of the IUCN Red Data list.