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Hundreds if not thousands of dead #starfish wash up on beach in #SouthHams, #UK

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.

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Hundreds of dead #starfish found on #Leysdown #beach on #IsleOfSheppey, #UK

Starfish washed up on the beach at Leysdown. Picture: Terry Hanlon (8197746)

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.

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Hundreds of dead #starfish found washed up in Kinmel Bay and #Prestatyn, #Wales

The resident came across this very sad sight on Kinmel Bay beach. Picture: Submitted by reader

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.

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Tens of thousands of dead starfish wash up on a beach in Lincolnshire, UK

23.11.18 Dead Starfish In Lincolnshire, 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.”

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Hundreds of dead starfish wash ashore in Goa, India

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.

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Hundreds of dead starfish wash up on Falmouth beach, UK

Hundreds of dead starfish were found washed up on Castle Beach in Falmouth
Hundreds of dead spiny starfish were found washed up on Castle Beach in Falmouth last week after heavy winds hit the coastlines.
The starfish, also known as Marthasterias glacias, are a common species in our waters and one of the largest, growing up to 70cm across.
This incident is unusual, as it’s uncommon for large strandings of this species to occur but like all starfish, they are occasionally brought inshore by periods of unusually stormy weather and heavy surf.
Matt Slater, marine awareness officer at the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, said: “Scientists recently discovered that mass strandings of live starfish can be caused by heavy seas and strong currents moving over shallow waters.
“They roll up into a ball and cartwheel along the sea bed like tumble weeds. It is possible that this happened here and may be explained by the heavy surf that has been coming into Falmouth Bay recently.”
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1000+ dead starfish wash up on beaches in South Carolina, USA

Starfish Alert
Shannon Turbeville was walking the beach on Fripp Island on a Sunday evening when she stumbled upon a not-so-typical sight — more than 1,000 starfish cluttered the sand.
“Everywhere we went, there were clusters of them,” she told the Island Packet- Beaufort Gazette on Tuesday.
Other social media reports show large clusters of starfish (also called sea stars) and sand dollars washed up on other Lowcountry beaches this weekend including Isle of Palms, Folly Beach, and Hilton Head Island.
So what’s happening off Lowcountry beaches that’s pushing these creatures to shore?
Turns out, “mass starfish strandings” are more common than we think.
According to Jessica Miller, Naturalist at Fripp Island Resort, the island sees mass starfish strandings every winter that sees unusually cold temperatures.
“All those little marine animals that are ectothermic (cold blooded) like starfish, sea cucumbers, and snails can lose mobility and get dislodged from the sea floor if it gets too cold,” Miller said. She said groups of jellyfish are washed to shore by the masses for the same reason.
She added that the stranded animals may or may not be dead when they wash ashore, but it’s nothing to worry about.
Miller said that cold water temperatures in combination with strong winds and currents push these creatures to shore by the masses. On Christmas Day in 2014, an estimated 100,000 sea stars washed ashore Fripp Island.
David Lucas, a spokesman at SCDNR, said mass starfish strandings along the SC coast “are not uncommon” and officials usually see one or two incidents per year.
“They’re at the mercy of the currents and often get pushed ashore,” Lucas said in an email to the Packet. “Given the unusually low water temperatures that we’ve seen since New Year’s Day, however, it’s likely that cold weather is also playing a role in these strandings.”
Water temperatures off the Charleston coast were around 46 degrees Tuesday, according to NOAA, which is below the monthly 50-degree average for January.
What to do if you see a starfish stranded
Lucas said that SCDNR doesn’t have any official recommendations for people who discover these mass strandings. If the starfish or sand dollar looks alive, it might be best to throw it back into the ocean.
On Hilton Head, it’s illegal to take home any living beach fauna including starfish and sand dollars. It could result in a $500 fine.
“Unfortunately, quite often the animals stranded in this way will be already expired (or close to it) by the time they are noticed,” Lucas said. “So practically speaking, (throwing it back in the ocean) may not do much good. But there is also no reason for folks not to try it if they are moved to do so.”
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Thousands of starfish wash up on Portobello beach in Edinburgh, Scotland

Starfish washed up on Portobello beach
Thousands of starfish have been found washed up on Portobello beach in Edinburgh.
They were spotted on Sunday by local residents who were out walking in the coastal suburb.
Edinburgh-based Susan Tomes, who was on the beach with her family, told BBC Scotland: “It was the strangest thing I have ever seen on Portobello beach.
“We saw this pinkish drift before realising with horror that they were starfish – thousands of them.
“People were looking at it and wondering what had happened to them.
“We presumed they were dead because we prodded one or two of them with our feet and they didn’t respond.”
Some residents speculated that the marine invertebrates may have ended up on the beach as a result of Storm Eleanor.
In April, thousands of starfish were spotted washed up on a beach in the Highlands.
In that case, marine experts said the invertebrates may have got caught up by strong winds or tides as they changed location.
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