Credit: Emily Baker
Scientists have revealed what they think caused the mass stranding of hundreds of starfish on a beach in the South Hams.
Witnesses say they saw “hundreds if not thousands” of dead starfish swept onto Slapton Sands in Torcross at around 6.45pm on Monday, September 16.
Holidaymakers Martyn and Jill Worrall were leaving dinner at the Start Bay Inn when they witnessed the “surreal” occurrence.
Martyn said: “The waves were washing up hundreds if not thousands of starfish over about 100 yards of the shoreline in front of us.
“I went down onto the beach to see if they were alive, but unfortunately, they looked dead as they weren’t moving.
“There were more being washed in as I watched.”
The couple left shortly afterwards.
In 2016, experts at Plymouth University investigated similar cases of mass strandings and found that it occurs when starfish curl themselves into balls.
It is not known if the unusual phenomenon, known as starballing, is deliberate but marine research fellow Dr Emma Sheehan believes it could help explain why mass strandings occur.
She said: “We simply cannot say whether the starballing individuals were swept off the seabed by the strong tidal flow, or if the individuals allowed themselves to be transported.”
On Tuesday morning, around twenty lifeless starfish were spotted on the beach in front of the Start Bay Inn.
Nine years ago, a different beach in Devon attracted national news coverage after thousands of starfish washed up along a mile stretch.
Multiple news agencies reported the starfish were exhausted after spawning, causing them to drift onto the Budleigh Salterton shoreline.
Courtesy of southhams-today.co.uk
Starfish washed up on the beach at Leysdown. Picture: Terry Hanlon (8197746)
Hundreds of starfish have been washed up on a beach.
It is likely they were blown ashore Leysdown by strong winds on Sunday. There have also been exceptionally high spring tides recently.
An Environment Agency spokesman said: “Swarms of starfish search the sea for tasty mussel beds but it can sometimes end badly for the ravenous invertebrates.
“It is not unusual for currents to wash large numbers of starfish onto the beach if they get too close to the shore searching for food.
“Once stranded on land, their fate is sealed. They dehydrate and die, as appears to have occurred at Leysdown.
“But starfish are the ladybirds of the sea and breed really quickly.
“Just one starfish can produce millions of larvae, meaning their numbers recover from mass fatalities like the one we’ve seen on Sheppey this week.
“Some of the dead starfish may get picked off by birds but they are not harmful to humans.”
It is not unusual for starfish and other marine animals to end up on the beach.
Last year starfish and dogfish were washed up all along the Kent coast from Sheppey to Ramsgate.
Ten years ago beaches at the eastern end of the Island made headlines when they were totally covered by starfish.
Most of the starfish this time ended up at Warden Bay.
Courtesy of kentonline.co.uk
HUNDREDS of starfish have been found washed up on the beach in Kinmel Bay.
The sad sight, which also included fish, was spotted on Monday, January 28.
A resident, who asked not to be named, was out walking with her sister at about 1pm when they stumbled across the “horror”.
She said: “We were shocked and terrible saddened.
“The weather the night before was terrible and so windy. I actually walked to the sea wall and didn’t realise that, while I was taking in the view, all those creatures were being thrown around.
“I’ve recently moved to the area and one of the reasons why is because I love this coast and the wonderful wildlife here.”
Starfish and various shellfish were also spotted by residents on the beach near the Nova in Prestatyn.
Anne Williams said: “I was at the beach at about 10am. I was walking from the Nova towards the sailing club and a bit beyond.
“It was a very shocking sight and left me feeling quite sad and helpless.
“I found that a few of the brittle star type were still alive, so I put as many as I could back into the water, but I don’t know if it does any good.
“There were also a few urchins in amongst the masses of starfish and shellfish,” Anne added.
Gem Simmons, aquarist and mammal keeper at SeaQuarium Rhyl, said: “Unfortunately this is a very common sight during stormy offshore weather, especially along the coast of North Wales and slightly more common on Anglesey.
Courtesy of rhyljournal.co.uk
These shocking pictures show tens of thousands of starfish washed up on a Mablethorpe beach after days of stormy seas. Photo: SWNS
They are believed to have been dumped on the beach after rough seas in recent days ripped them from the seabed. Trevor Bradford was walking his Yorkshire Terrier on the beach at Mablethorpe, on a cold Thursday morning when he stumbled upon the stranded pink invertebrates.
The 69-year-old said: “I’ve never seen that many. There was a carpet of them as far as the eye could see.
“It went on for a good 200 yards and the thickest parts of it were about 10 yards across.”
“Over the last few days, the tides have been really rough. I don’t often see it that stormy around here. “The weather hasn’t been that windy, but there have been some rough tides that have made it a bit treacherous for people walking on the beach.”
Courtesy of louthleader.co.uk
Scores of dead starfish washed ashore on Caranzalem beach just walking distance from the popular Miramar beach have baffled locals as their mortality had not been reported in recent years.
Courtesy of timesofindia.indiatimes.com