HUNDREDS of starfish have been found washed up on the beach in Kinmel Bay.

The sad sight, which also included fish, was spotted on Monday, January 28.

A resident, who asked not to be named, was out walking with her sister at about 1pm when they stumbled across the “horror”.

She said: “We were shocked and terrible saddened.

“The weather the night before was terrible and so windy. I actually walked to the sea wall and didn’t realise that, while I was taking in the view, all those creatures were being thrown around.

“I’ve recently moved to the area and one of the reasons why is because I love this coast and the wonderful wildlife here.”

Starfish and various shellfish were also spotted by residents on the beach near the Nova in Prestatyn.

Anne Williams said: "I was at the beach at about 10am. I was walking from the Nova towards the sailing club and a bit beyond.

"It was a very shocking sight and left me feeling quite sad and helpless.

"I found that a few of the brittle star type were still alive, so I put as many as I could back into the water, but I don't know if it does any good.

"There were also a few urchins in amongst the masses of starfish and shellfish," Anne added.

Gem Simmons, aquarist and mammal keeper at SeaQuarium Rhyl, said: “Unfortunately this is a very common sight during stormy offshore weather, especially along the coast of North Wales and slightly more common on Anglesey.

Rhyl Journal:

Anne Williams spotted this scene in Prestatyn (Picture: Anne Williams). 

“Along North Wales it primarily affects the species known as ‘common starfish’ – Asterias rubens – and the conservation status of this species is currently assessed as ‘common’, meaning their populations are currently not at risk of falling in numbers. There are many theories as to why this happens and research is currently ongoing.

“One popular theory is ‘Starballing’ in which the starfish will curl their arms inward, possibly in order to move quicker harnessing currents and tides for maximum efficiency.

“This would make them much more vulnerable in periods of stronger currents and wave action meaning they are more likely to wash up onshore.”

Gem said it is hard to tell whether the starfish are dead or alive as the star-shaped echinoderms are capable of periods of little to no movement.

“Good signs to look for are movement of the ‘feet’ in the grooves of the underside of the starfish,” she said.

“They are capable of surviving long periods of time out of the sea providing there is moisture present.

“Many will survive and be washed out again when the storm has passed and the tide has come in providing they survive predators while on the beach. Although upsetting, there is little that can be done other than to let nature take its course.”

Paul Brazier, Intertidal Ecologist for Natural Resources Wales, said: “The stranding of so many common starfish was probably due to the high winds over the weekend which hit when we also had quite big tides - Spring tides.

“Unfortunately, such mass strandings are a normal event in these weather conditions at this time of year all around the British and Irish coasts.”

“The starfish, likely to be feeding in high density on mussel beds, were probably lifted from the seabed and thrown onto the shore by the wind and waves.

“However, starfish reproduce quickly and the population overall is unlikely to be affected by these natural events and will recover naturally.

“As part of our work in Natural Resources Wales, we monitor the natural environment – at sea and on land - to keep an eye on changes so that we can provide the best possible conservation advice.”