Yes, that is a starfish. No, it should never have been brought to our table like that.*
We recently celebrated new jobs via raw oysters and brunch. (Not consumed at the same meal. Duh.) At the restaurant* where we had the oysters, we also had an order of mussels. This little guy came along inside one of the last ones in the bowl.
I know from Avi’s library beach books that starfish eat mussels and other bivalves by forcing open the shell and sucking up the animal inside. I would imagine that is not the most pleasant way to go, since the same library book also compared starfish to snails in terms of speed. Little did this particular starfish know that the delicious mussel he (she? it?) was slowly chowing down on would be his (hers? its?) last.
I vacillated between fascinated and horrified. We didn’t let the server know, but we did place the shell on the top of the bowl so maybe someone noticed it before it was thrown out. In hindsight, I think not making a scene was the right choice.
*You probably want to know where we were, right? Sigh. The good news is it wasn’t a locally-owned place. We were going to go to the Original Fish Market downtown, but we ended up at Mitchell’s in the Waterfront instead. I got drunk on excellent mojitos and elderflower martinis and cucumber collinses. But I don’t think we’ll be going back again any time soon.