Thousands of starfish wash ashore in Pawleys Island

Children look at the starfish that washed up on shore this week. (Source: WMBF News)
Children look at the starfish that washed up on shore this week. (Source: WMBF News)

PAWLEYS ISLAND, SC (WMBF) – People in Pawleys Island have seen lots of stars over the past few days, but this time they're not in the sky, but on the beach.

Thousands of starfish washed up on the beach Tuesday, and days later the sea creatures are still providing beach-goers with entertainment and a new hobby.

"We've been here about 30 minutes and together we probably have over 100," said 13-year-old Morgan Kennedy.

Mike Walker, a park ranger at Huntington Beach State Park, attributes the blanket of starfish on the beach to the high winds that ripped through the area Monday night.

"The waves are generated by the wind. The stronger the wind, the bigger the waves, the more they scour the bottom, the more they pick up things off the ocean floor and deposit them on the beach," Walker said.

Walker says starfish don't have too much control over their movement and are at the mercy of nature when the seas get rough.

Most of the sea creatures washed up are dead, but there are some holding on to life. Walker says it's those that people can help give a second shot at survival.

"The little grooves on the underside of the sea star will have little wiggly tube feet. If you see those little feet wiggling it's still alive, it still has a chance," said Walker.

Sharon McMeekin has owned a house on Pawleys Island for more than 30 years, and she says she's never in her life see anything like the piles of starfish on the beach.

"Lord behold did I see starfishes stacked on top of each other. I didn't know what was happening," she said.

People young and old spent the day collecting the pointy critters in baskets, bags, buckets and anything else they could get their hands on. Some spent hours on the beach looking for souvenirs to take home.

Walker says even though lots of the starfish are seemingly being eliminated from the ecosystem, it's not time to worry. He says nature will repopulate the starfish eventually.

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