As many Europeans shoveled their way out of the recent wintry weather caused by the storm nicknamed ‘The Beast from the East”, many residents found themselves stumbling upon an almost apocalyptic scene along the English coast. Hundreds of thousands of dead starfish, sea urchins and other sea life washed up on the shores in Kent and East Yorkshire, UK.
This ‘Starfish Armageddon’ is not completely unheard of for a coastline. Mass starfish populations have perished along shores during cold weather spells and storms in Maryland, USA, in 1960, the British Isles in 1999 and off the Irish Coast in 2009.
Although the cause of these mass starfish strandings are not completely known or understood, the theory stems from abnormal freezing temperatures and high ocean waves. A combination of these conditions with high wind gusts and disturbances in ocean bed sediment can disturb sea life. Unfortunately, during the height of this particular storm, the UK shores experienced a low tide which inevitably made it more difficult for sea life to survive.
The UK Marine Conservation Society concluded the cause of the mass starfish deaths are a result of a combination of extreme cold, nearly frozen shallow waters along the coast and the depth at which the storm wave penetrated the seabed.
IWC (Suzanne P.)