WHITBY Gazette photographer Ceri Oakes came to the rescue of 150 starfish which were dumped on Whitby beach and left to die.
The starfish were spotted by Whitby Community College students Jess Scarth (15) and Kirsty Kemsley (14) who were walking on the beach on Friday.
The friends counted around 150 starfish along the shoreline and walkers have spotted more at Sandsend too. And with the marine animals at severe risk of perishing out of their natural habitat, Ceri put the starfish back into nearby rockpools which succesfully revived them.
Jess and Kirsty told the Whitby Gazette they were both shocked by what they had seen.
Jess added: “It’s really cruel.”
Lyndsey Crawford, curator of the Sea Life Centre in Scarborough, said: “It’s not a normal occurrence, humans have done that.
“We’ve never seen a batch of 150 of them washed up in the same area.
“It couldn’t have been pollution as other things would have been washed up too.”
It is thought the starfish, which can only survive for a few hours out of water, had been plucked from rockpools and collected by holidaymakers. They could also have been caught in a fishing net and then discarded.
The Sea Life Centre advise anyone who finds starfish on the shore should put them back in water as soon as possible.
The starfish is not a fish but an echinoderm, a type of marine animal that is spiny-skinned – it does not have gills, scales or fins.
They feed on mussels, crustaceans, worms and sea urchins and have the ability to push their stomachs out of their mouths in order to digest prey too big to swallow.
Starfish are propelled very slowly along the sea floor by their tiny tube feet.
The sea creatures are abundant in the Atlantic ocean, and are found occasionally in the Mediterranean, although are not native in the UK.