Dozens of starfish wash ashore on Tybee Island - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Dozens of starfish wash ashore on Tybee Island

TYBEE ISLAND, GA (WTOC) -

If you've been out on Tybee Island lately, you may have noticed that an unusual suspect has made its way onto the sandy beaches.

We’re talking about starfish!

Experts say it’s typical to see a few here and there during the winter, but there have been dozens washing up on shore. Doctor Joe Richardson, a former marine science professor, tells WTOC it’s still a mystery but he's come up with a pretty good theory as to why you at home may have seen this sea animal. He says a few reddish brown star fish are typically seen during the winter time because it’s a more northern cold water species.

The bottom of these starfish have tube feet with suction cups on the ends. They live on hard bottoms so their feet can grip and hold, which is not typical for the sandy beaches, but recently dozens and even hundreds have washed ashore on Tybee.

He thinks a bunch of them live off shore, but the hard bottom area where they've been living may have been recently covered in sand.

"The sand may have shifted a bit, covered over the area where they live attached and then they're not able to grip since the sand had formed a little layer over the hard bottom. So they've gotten detached and end up then floating around in the water, and just going to get washed around wherever the current happens to carry them,” said Dr. Richardson, Tybee Beach Ecology Trips.

Dr. Richardson went out on an ecology trip with girl scouts on Monday morning and says he is still excited to find interesting sea life, like the starfish, and then they of course put them back into the water near the rocks.

Dr. Richardson says it is best to find them at low tide. 

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