Preserving a Dead Starfish?

How do we dry out a dead starfish? We've never lived anywhere near an ocean, but we are now less than 2 hours away from the Pacific. We recently went to a beach that had lots of tide pools. There were lots of starfish. We would never bother the live ones, but my son found a dead one. We know it was dead because it wouldn't attach itself to any thing, and we asked the ranger about it. He agreed it was dead and said we could take it home.


I put it on a rack on the patio and put a screen over it to keep the flies off. It didn't dry out, it just sort of got soft and mushy. We will be going back to the beach several times this summer and may find another one. My son was disappointed this one couldn't be kept, so I'd like to know what to do next time.

By Di from Wilsonville, OR

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Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 239 Feedbacks
June 1, 20090 found this helpful

When it's a really hot day (or time of year) they will dry out when placed in the sun on a piece of mesh wire (like an old screen) and allowed to just lay there. It'll probably smell for awhile so put it away from the house.

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June 2, 20090 found this helpful

I put mine in the oven on like 200 and kept checking till it dries, but I will warn you it does make your oven smell bad so you will need to clean it after you're done good luck!

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June 4, 20090 found this helpful

We live at the beach in Mass. My husband is a fisherman & gets lots of starfish. The ones that you find in tidepools around here, or in the waves at the ocean cannot make it back to deep water & will die.


You can just leave them in the sun to dry up, and you can out them into a bleach & water bath for a few minutes to whiten them & to clean thoroughly after they are dried.

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August 14, 20190 found this helpful

How can the color be preserved?

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June 4, 20090 found this helpful

Place it in boiling water for a few minutes and then allow to dry (and any shells which may house sea creatures).

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February 10, 20210 found this helpful

How can you dry the starfish when its winter and not hot days with 40-50 degree weather? I live in an RV but do not want to stink up the place so can you preserve them and there color somehow until summer comes then straighten their legs and dry in the sun??

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June 4, 20090 found this helpful

Thank you to everyone for their responses. I live in a tiny apartment, so I don't think using the oven would be a good thing (LOL)! However, next time we find a dead starfish, it will be properly preserved. Just a note--I would NEVER harm a living creature.

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November 10, 20140 found this helpful

Hi! I'm so sorry you weren't able to preserve your starfish! But here's the way I did it. I recently found a few dead starfish on the beach, down at Topsail Island's Serenity Point. Having never found one, I just took it back home and laid it out, thinking it would dry. BUT it got all mushy like you said your's did. After some research on google, I found out that I could still save it.


I soaked it in some warm water for a few minutes (because it wasn't very dried out yet--- if it had been I would have needed to soak it a little longer). It's little arms relaxed so I could position them and it's little points perked right back up! -Important note- I found out the hard way that these little guys are very delicate. Their arms will start to fall off with too much handling. So always try to scoop them up on a slotted utensil, or with your fingers - don't just pick them up by their arms.

Then I did the following: I poured 70 percent isopropyl alcohol, also known as rubbing alcohol, into a container large enough for the starfish's arms to stretch out without hitting the sides. (I went to Walmart and got some of those cheap Ziplock Plastic Containers with lids). I poured a little in to cover the bottom, then gently laid the starfish inside. Then I poured more alcohol slowly and gently into the container to cover the whole body. Make sure you pour enough alcohol into the container to cover the starfish.


Leave it soak for 1-2 nights. I let mine soak for 48 hours with great results.

Then lay some newspaper out flat in the sun. Make sure you weight the newspaper down! As starfish get lighter and lighter as they dry. You don't want the newspaper to blow away!

Take the starfish out of the alcohol and lay it on the newspaper. Sprinkle some salt over the starfish's body and also the arms. Salt helps with the drying.

In order to keep the arms from curling up, take some scotch or masking tape and tape the very tips of the arms to the newspaper. This also protects the starfish from blowing away. I just taped the very tips so I didn't mess the arms up. Also, I laid little stones and crystals on the tips too just for added weight to help the arms dry straight without curling back up.


Leave this out all day to soak up the sun and dry. As I'm typing this, I am in the process of drying my starfish during November. This week there is limited sunlight. I've actually got a christmas gift box that I've lined with the newspaper I've attached my starfish too, as I'm having to take the whole contraption in and out of the house during multiple days to complete the drying process.

Here are the best sites I've found that taught me how to do this...

Here's the site that told me how to flatten my starfish's curled arms:

And here's a site that tells you how to preserve all sorts of sea life, including starfish:


Good luck! I hope you have a better outcome next time :)

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July 27, 20160 found this helpful

I did this! I cleaned the one I found in some warm water and laundry detergent then put it in a rubbing alcohol solution for a day and a half. I checked on it and it looked like it was dissolving so that is why it wasn't for the full 48 hours. Then I rested it on some foam because I didn't have newspaper handy. I spread some salt on it and let it rest in the very hot sun. You know what happened? The bloody thing dissolved. Dissolved. I have two and a half arms and a piece of the center left. Dissolved. I'm a bit heartbroken. It was my first starfish I found.

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June 5, 20180 found this helpful

i was in the Bahamas & a local had been diving for star fish he came out of the ocean with few Large 22 x 22 starfish. He cleaned them was drying in sun all day then he spayed them with formaldehide he told me not to get it wet and leave in sun til i left. Paid him $30 for it. When I packed it up i put in plastic bag and wrapped clothes around it for the trip home & placed in carry on bag. when did get home & got it out, it smelled & parts were starting to rot :-( I then put it out in the sun & flies were everywhere. Im still trying to save it. My husband wants to lacquer it verathane, I'm not sure this will work. Do the sights you provided give information on this?

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