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Tybee officials reminding visitors not to take starfish from beach, or face fine

Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 3:54 PM EDT
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TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - If you’ve been out on Tybee’s north beach lately you may have come across tons of starfish. For many it’s really fun to pick them up and admire them, but Tybee officials are reminding people to leave them at the beach or face a hefty fine.

Experts say the number and kind of starfish that have washed up here on Tybee is an unusual sight to see. They say the last time this many washed up was about 20 years ago.

Since mid-July Dr. Joe Richardson with Tybee Beach Ecology Trips says starfish have washed up on the beach by the hundreds. Richardson says he believes this has happened because of recent storms stirring up the ocean floor causing the starfish to be lifted up and carried away in the current. He says it’s totally safe for people to pick them up, but that they must put them back in the water afterward. If starfish are left out of the water they’ll dry up, become brittle and die.

Tybee police also say taking a live animal, like a starfish, off the beach can be a $300 fine.

“This kind of starfish, the Gray Starfish, lives out off shore in deeper water and they’re not a normal shoreline sort of animal. I don’t know how long they’ll be able to survive on the shoreline, but they’ve made it a month or so. They may make it on through the summertime,” said Dr. Richardson.

If you want to go see them, they can typically be spotted during low tide.

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