Thousands of starfish were stranded by high tides and stormy seas one August at Rhossili Bay on the Gower Peninsula. These voiolent natural events happen from time to time in the ecology of the seashore. Although it is sad to see so many marine and seashore creatures perishing at once, it is all part of the bigger picture. These animals become part of the food chain for other creatures – the more obvious larger ones like crabs and birds and the smaller invertebrates like the sandhoppers.
These Common Starfish, Asterias rubens Linnaeus, on the sandy shore formed a virtual carpet of orange, pink, red, purple and every colour in between. Star shapes and contorted versions of them. Rough spikey textures on vividly coloured upper surfaces; and soft radiating rows of tube feet on paler lower surfaces. Spread across a wide strandline in an almost continuous mosaic pattern – interspersed with razor and other seashells and empty tests of sea urchins. The occasional crab feasting on the remains; raucous groups of big seabirds picking over the remains.
Revision of a post first published 2 October 2009
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