'Thousands' of starfish wash up on beach in Margate

"Thousands" of starfish have washed up on a beach in Kent, with the local council warning residents "to keep dogs and children away from them".

The starfish were seen between Margate Winter Gardens and the lido at Margate Beach on Monday, according to Andy Freeman.

He spotted what appeared to be thousands of the dead sea creatures and posted images in a local Facebook group.

Wash-ups are common after spells of bad weather, and Margate reached low temperatures, endured spells of rain and strong winds in the days leading up to Monday, with the Met Office and Environment Agency warning those in the area of potential flooding.

The Environment Agency says marine life such as whole invertebrates, like starfish, crabs and other crustaceans can be vulnerable to wash-ups as they tend to live in or migrate to shallow water, meaning they are more likely to be swept on to beaches.

Thanet District Council said they were aware of the incident and said it was "likely to have been caused by recent rough seas and onshore winds".

"We understand the concern from members of the public when sea life is discovered on the district's beaches," they said.

"We report all dead aquatic mammals to British Divers Marine Life Rescue, who collect the remains."

Members of the public were advised "not to attempt to move any stranded sea life and to keep dogs and children away from them, as they may have infectious or transferable diseases".

Read more from Sky News:
Dead shellfish wash up on North Yorkshire coast
Marine life washes up on Teesside beaches

Footage shared by Kent Live in April last year showed an almost identical scene at the nearby Botany Bay.

A similar incident occurred on a beach in Ramsgate, Kent in 2018 - which is less than six miles from Margate Beach.

It was later referred to as "one of the biggest mass strandings on record in the UK", by the Natural History Museum.

Despite most wash-ups being natural occurrences, the Environment Agency says it "always looks for anything out of the ordinary" when they receive reports.

It can be a yearly occurrence but is more common in the autumn and winter months, it adds.

While the latest wash-up in Margate has not been reported to the Environment Agency, a spokesperson told Sky News: "Creatures like mussels, starfish, crabs and razor clams occupy rocky habitats and unfortunately can be easily dislodged during unsettled weather, onshore winds or spring tides - causing them to be washed ashore.

"We continue to monitor reports of wash-ups and if people do have concerns about pollution they should report it to the Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60 so we can investigate."