50,000 dead starfish found on Irish beach
Friday 06 November 2009
Extreme weather conditions have killed tens of thousands of starfish and left them strewn across a sheltered beach.
A carpet of pink and mauve echinoderms, a family of marine animals, appeared yesterday morning on Lissadell Beach in north Co Sligo.
The adult starfish, measuring between 7cm and 20cm in diameter and estimated to be up to 50,000 in number, stretched along 150 metres of the strand.
Marine biologist and lecturer at Sligo Institute of Technology Bill Crowe speculated that they had been lifted up by a storm while feeding on mussel beds off shore.
"The most likely explanation is that they were feeding on mussels but it is a little strange that none of them were attached to mussels when they were washed in," he said.
He added that if they had died as a result of a so-called 'red tide' or algal bloom, other sealife would have been washed ashore with them.
"These were almost all adult size and the typical starfish variety that is found in the North Atlantic but there was nothing else mixed in with them," he said.
Surveying the unusual scene, he placed some in a bucket of seawater to test whether they were alive, but while this prompted a slight response from one or two of the creatures, the vast majority were dead.
Tim Roderick, District Conservation Officer with the National Parks and Wildlife Service, agreed the phenomenon was most likely caused by recent bad weather.
"They turned up almost certainly as a result of an exceptional storm event.
"A storm hit the seabed where these sub-tidal animals were and lifted them up and washed them ashore," he said.
A spokesperson for the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government said that investigations were continuing into how they came to be washed ashore but initial indications pointed to the stormy weather, which has been a feature in the north-west in recent days.
In a similar episode earlier this year, thousands of dead starfish washed ashore on Youghal Beach in Co Cork.
Scientists speculated that they, too, had been thrown on to the beach by an underflow, which was probably caused by a storm at sea.
Source Irish Independent
- 1 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 2 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 3 Satellite full of sexually experimental geckos adrift in space, Russia loses control of mission
- 4 Exclusive: Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ in tatters as charity watchdog launches investigation into claims of Government funding misuse
- 5 Israel has discovered that it's no longer so easy to get away with murder in the age of social media
MH17 crash: Investigators discover more human remains and 'huge section of plane'
Susan Sarandon on David Bowie romance: 'He's worth idolising'
Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Exclusive: Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ in tatters as charity watchdog launches investigation into claims of Government funding misuse
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains
John Barrowman praised for Commonwealth Games opening ceremony gay kiss
£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...
Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...
£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...
£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...