Thousands of starfish wash up on beach in Margate

A disaster / Twitter

Marine life like starfish are vulnerable to wash-ups at this time of year, particularly following spells of adverse weather.

Starfish were discovered between Margate Winter Gardens and the lido at Margate Beach on Monday by Andy Freeman, who observed what seemed to be thousands of dead sea creatures and shared images in a local Facebook group.

Wash-ups are typical after severe weather, and Margate experienced low temperatures, heavy rain, and strong winds prior to Monday. The Met Office and Environment Agency cautioned residents about potential flooding in the area.

The Environment Agency explained that marine life like starfish, crabs, and other crustaceans are susceptible to wash-ups because they typically inhabit shallow waters, making them more prone to being swept onto beaches.

Thanet District Council acknowledged the incident, attributing it to recent rough seas and onshore winds. They assured the public of their awareness and understanding of concerns regarding sea life found on the district’s beaches.

We report all dead aquatic mammals to British Divers Marine Life Rescue, who collect the remains.”

Members of the public were advised “not to attempt to move any stranded sea life and to keep dogs and children away from them, as they may have infectious or transferable diseases”.

An environmental problem?

In 2018, a comparable event occurred on a beach in Ramsgate, Kent, less than six miles from Margate Beach. The incident was later dubbed “one of the biggest mass strandings on record in the UK” by the Natural History Museum.

The Environment Agency emphasizes that while most wash-ups are natural, they always investigate reports for anything unusual. These occurrences are typically yearly but more frequent during autumn and winter.

Although the recent Margate wash-up hasn’t been reported to them, the Environment Agency urges reporting of concerns about pollution or unusual events. Creatures like mussels, starfish, crabs, and razor clams can be easily dislodged during rough weather or spring tides, leading to them being washed ashore. They encourage people to report such incidents for investigation.

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Marina Lorente

A Spanish woman who has returned to her motherland after 6 years living in London. She is passionate about nature, animals and yoga.