Tonga/Vava‘u: Sea Stars at Utungake and Mala Islands

A channel divides the Utungake and Mala islands and there are areas of relatively shallow reef and sand with quick moving currents – perfect for sea stars. In fact, it was like fields and fields of giant sea stars – from the very numerous dark burgundy ones, to skinny blue ones, to totally bizarre looking round orange ones to fat pink ones. Add various sea cucumbers and mollusks – and it turns into an insane sea star safari snorkel adventure! Among the sea stars we saw were the Horned Seastar (Protoreaster nodosus) – dark burgundy large starts covering a lot of sea floor, Blue Linckia Seastar (Linckia laevigata) – bright blue skinny stars, Pin-cushion Seastar (Culcita novaeguineae) – big round orange pillow-like seastars, and Doughboy Starfish (Choriaster granulatus). As always, English names are usually super self-explanatory.