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How to help a ‘walking’ starfish on the beach

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If you ever see a starfish walking beyond the water’s edge, help it survive by putting it back into the ocean.

Zeb Hallock filmed this 2012 clip of a Luidia clathrata seastar in Corolla, North Carolina before relocating the animal for its safety:

“It was early evening, probably around 6pm or so at low tide. We noticed there were starfish walking around on the sand near the water. Some were in tide pools but some were just strolling on the sand, very very very slowly. The ones that were on the sand we carefully relocated back to the ocean or a tide pool. Other people coming out to the beach were fascinated by the large amount of starfish and helped relocate the walkers to the water as well.”

walking starfish
As marine biologist and starfish expert Christopher Mah explains, it’s essential for sea stars to remain in the water:

“Sea stars operate using a unique series of tubes in their body called the water vascular system which operates primarily using hydraulic pressure throughout the arms and so forth. This is how they move and operate all of their tube feet and so on…

“Many echinoderms DO have a limited ability to tolerate BRIEF periods out of water… but this is essentially the animal with residual water remaining in its Water Vascular System, such as the tube feet and so on…

“Fluid is still required for movement AND survival. Water carries oxygen and other necessities, such as food and etc. throughout the body.

“So, that long crawl back? is not both a crawl to return to comfort but also a return for SURVIVAL…

“Fortunately the original producers of the video have said repeatedly that they had returned that specimen to the ocean shortly after they shot it. So, good on them. I thank you on behalf of the starfishes!!”

walking starfish
Watch this video next: Galloping Starfish and their army of sniffing, tasting, gripping tube feet.

Plus: More echinoderms.

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