Thousands of starfish wash up on Danish beach

Expert points to shifting weather as a possible reason

Beach watchers in the north-Jutland town of Standby near Frederikshavn were startled by the site of thousands of starfish on Thursday morning.

The starfish are perfectly healthy and lying in about a meter of water just offshore. Simon Madsen, head of communication and diving in the North Sea Oceanarium in Hirtshals said that this is not the first time he has encountered a beach full of starfish.

“I actually saw something similar on the beach just below the oceanarium some years ago,” he told TV2 Nord.

Blowin’ in the wind
Madsen at first feared that there had been a major contamination that had sent the animals to the shoreline, but he eventually decided on a much more simple and less unpleasant explanation: the weather.

“We just had a long period of easterly winds, which squeezes water out of the Kattegat and the Baltic Sea into the North Sea instead,” he said. “When the wind shifts to the west, as it has just done, the change in pressure may well cause those starfish lying in the sand and not attached to rocks or cliffs to wind up on the beach.”

Shooting stars
Starfish can also be stirred up when fishermen use bottom rakes and nets for clams and crayfish.

“This phenomenon happens sometimes, and it happens regularly across the country,” said Madsen.

Anyone wanting a glimpse of the onshore constellation need to move fast; the starfish will return to sea on the next high tide.