Thousands of Starfish Wash Up Dead on UK Beach—Here’s Why

Thursday, 15 March

A galaxy of dead starfish washed up on the North Sea beaches around Ramsgate in Kent. Estimates put the number of dead starfish in the thousands. The Marine Conservation Society, a British nonprofit, describe the event as a combined effect of the huge cold wave dubbed the “Beast from the East” and Storm Emma, which caused rough water.

Also known as sea stars, starfish gather in coastal waters to feed on mussel beds. Shallow seas allow temperatures to drop near or below freezing leaving animals like starfish torpid and vulnerable to heavy wave action. Mass strandings of common starfish are recurrent along the coasts of England and Wales. According to an expert in the field, the dramatic incident should have actually have little impact on this rapidly reproducing species.