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Mystery of dead starfish washed up on Cumbrian beach

Mystery surrounds the discovery of dozens of dead starfish washed up on a beach.

Starfish photo
Some of the dead starfish

Sheena Green was walking along the shore when she found between 20 and 30 of the creatures.

The tide was coming in when Ms Green saw the dead starfish at the edge of the water in Workington.

Ms Green, who lives in Cockermouth, said: “I don’t know why they were there, but they were washed up and obviously dead.

“At first there were just a couple, then I walked further on and there were a few more then I came across a larger number. Some were babies. I don’t know what had caused them to wash up dead. It was quite upsetting to see.”

Lindsay Sullivan, marine conservation officer at the North West Wildlife Trust, said it would be unlikely that the cause could be discovered now that it was the starfish would have been washed back out to sea with the tides.

She said: “It is good that the lady in question has wanted to get in touch and report it. It could be a one-off but we may never know, or there could be other people walking up and down the coast who may find similar things but we never find out about it.

“Generally it is quite hard to find out the true cause of something like this unless we do very thorough investigations and that often involves us getting examples of what has been washed up. We would also have to take a very careful look, there are so many indicators that can have a bearing on something like this. They could’ve got dislodged, a change in temperature, change in conditions, anything.

“We would not like to play this down but if people do find any more it is worth raising.”

Ms Sullivan also wants to remind walkers and seaside visitors that if they find any larger creatures – sea mammals or turtles – washed up on Cumbria’s beaches they should contact marine wildlife groups and local authorities who can help.

If they are still alive, groups like the Marine Conservation Society and the British Divers Marine Life Rescue can help rescue washed up creatures like dolphins, seals and porpoises.

Local councils are often responsible for the disposal of the bodies of dead or decomposing carcasses.

For information, visit

Have your say

Roy, doom doom doom. Yes, your generation were a bunch of filthy polluters, who even now object to having to put a plastic bottle and a glass bottle in different bags.

However, the environment is substantially better than it used to be. Rivers are cleaner, the air is cleaner, the oceans and seas are all cleaner.

Posted by Bob on 16 December 2012 at 16:07

I was down our local beach and I had noticed hundreds of dead starfish too, I googled it and read this article that it had happened a day before up in Cockermouth! So sad, I'm hoping that it is a natural disaster and nothing else.

Posted by Jo Cooney on 16 December 2012 at 12:19

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