Page last updated at 14:59 GMT, Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Spawning starfish washed up on Devon beach

Lauren Davis, Devon Wildlife: "They become vulnerable to stormy weather and high tides"

Thousands of starfish have been washed up on a Devon beach after becoming exhausted spawning.

A line of the creatures stretched for more than a mile across the pebbles at Budleigh Salterton.

One expert said the process of reproduction had left the starfish "tired out" and they had been left "susceptible" to tides and the wind.

Similar events happen once or twice a year in the UK, but it is the first time for Budleigh Salterton.

Dr David Gibson, managing director of the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, told BBC News: "They like to spawn in areas like this, in shallow water near a pebble beach.

It's part of the natural breeding process
Dr David Gibson

"Unfortunately after the event they are quite tired and susceptible to the vagaries of tide and wind and they have washed up on the beach."

He said there was no concerns about the numbers of dead starfish.

"They have already spawned. It's part of the natural breeding process."

Another theory is that the starfish ran out of food and were washed up migrating to another area.

Lauren Davis of Devon Wildlife Trust, said: "This is the first time it has happened on this beach, according to records."

She added: "Common starfish are very abundant on the coast."

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Mail Online UK Thousands of dead starfish washed up on a Devon beach - 2 hrs ago
Telegraph Dead starfish cover beach - 19 hrs ago
Exeter Express and Echo Thousands of starfish washed up - 29 hrs ago
Western Morning News Starfish washed up on beach - 46 hrs ago
Weston Mercury Startling starfish sighting - 48 hrs ago

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