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Swarms of starfish found dying on Leysdown beach on the Isle of Sheppey

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.

Starfish washed up on the beach at Leysdown. Picture: Terry Hanlon (8197744)
Starfish washed up on the beach at Leysdown. Picture: Terry Hanlon (8197744)

"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.

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

"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.

Starfish washed up on the beach at Leysdown. Picture: Terry Hanlon (8197748)
Starfish washed up on the beach at Leysdown. Picture: Terry Hanlon (8197748)

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.

The phenomenon came shortly after Sheppey’s beaches were featured on the BBC TV show Blue Planet UK.

Presenter Steve Brown told viewers on Wednesday how he went fossil-hunting at Minster when he was a boy.

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