Thousands of starfish killed by extreme weather

Thousands of starfish killed by extreme weather have washed up on a beach in Wales following storms at sea. 

The Marine Conservation Society has said extreme weather is the likely cause of the starfish washing up on Coppet Hall Beach in Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire, on Tuesday.

And despite concerns of witnesses that something had 'seriously gone wrong', a spokesperson for the Natural History Museum added that the incident was 'not a cause for huge concern' as the starfish population 'regenerates itself quickly'.

The mass stranding of thousands of common starfish is not uncommon in the UK, while other species have been reported to become stranded on the east coast of North America.

Thousands of sea creatures blanketed a beach in Ramsgate, Kent, in March 2018, shortly after hundreds more were washed ashore in East Yorkshire.

Andrew Cabrinovic, the Natural History Museum's curator of echinoderms, has previously said the cause of the starfish washing ashore is water currents becoming stronger due to stormy weather.

Starfish live on the soft and sandy parts of the sea floor or on rocky reefs, and so can be easily picked up by strong currents and waves. 

He said heavy storms cause deep water to move and affect offshore starfish populations, while changing tides, high winds and sea swell can also affect how many become stranded. 

Starfish are also sensitive to cold temperatures and any changes to water salinity, which can be caused by periods of heavy rain.

Storm Arwen, for example, caused thousands of starfish to wash up on a beach in Culbin Sands, Inverness, in November last year. 

The strong winds and large waves caused by Storm Emma in 2018 also led to hundreds of starfish and shellfish being left dead on miles of beaches.