Thousands of dead starfish wash up on Pembrokeshire coast

  • Video report by ITV Wales Journalist, Jess Main

Thousands of dead starfish were spotted lining the shores of Pembrokeshire beaches on Tuesday morning.

The sea creatures appear to have washed up during recent stormy weather and low tides.

Some people passing by took photos of the sad but unusual scene, as starfish littered the tide mark. Jordan Bowley took pictures at Coppet Hall beach and said they had seen "a handful of starfish" there before but "not anywhere near" as many as this time around.

Others on social media expressed their sadness at seeing such a huge amount of animals dead along the coastline.

It is believed that recent bad weather may be why so many starfish have washed up at once.
According to The Wildlife Trusts, the common starfish can be found in rockpools and in the sea at depths of at least 600m.

While the sight is unusual, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) say events like this happen all around the coast.

Adam Cooper, NRW's Senior Marine Advisor said: "We do get strandings like this reported around the coast of Wales when there’s stormy weather, especially when that coincides with big tides and we’ve had both of those in the last few days."

A ranger from Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority also supported the idea that unsettled weather could have led to the influx of starfish.

"These starfish breed when there’s lots of feed about so they’re feeding on clams and mussels," Chris Taylor explained.

"Sadly what’s happened here, I think, is that we’ve had a low tide, lots of stormy weather and that has brought a lot of these starfish ashore and sadly these starfish will die."

One passerby took pictures of several starfish, that did still appear to be alive, in rock pools on Coppet Hall beach. Credit: Jordan Bowley

Mr Taylor added that despite many dying, the ones that survive will be better equipped to the environment.

He said: "There’ll be lots that survive around the rocks and they’ll be the next starfish that’ll go on and breed...They’ll be hardier and better adapted for this environment."

While the ranger said there is little risk to humans, he reminded dog owners to be vigilant and make sure their canine does not eat any of the starfish.

Starfish have the ability to regrow lost limbs, which is why some legs may appear shorter than others.

It is not the first time unusual marine life has been spotted, washed up along the Welsh coastline.

A dead minke whale was found on Newgale beach, Pembrokeshire, in December 2020 while another breed of whale was discovered in Rhos-on-Sea, Conwy, last November.