FOLLY BEACH, S.C. (WCBD)- Visitors who ventured out to Folly Beach in the days after Hurricane Ian were met with a surprising sight on the sand.
Users took to social media over the weekend to share photos and videos of thousands of stranded starfish scattered along the shore.
According to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), although starfish stranding is uncommon, it can happen any time there is a storm with strong onshore winds that churns up the seafloor.
When those storm conditions exist, experts say anything that is not a strong swimmer can get pushed ashore, including starfish, jellies, and sand dollars.
SCDNR biologists identified the stranded animals as the common sea star and lined sea star, which are the two most common species found in South Carolina waters.
“Starfish or sea stars have evolved to handle mass strandings as a population, so while it may be sad to witness thousands of them washed ashore, the species are adapted to recover from these events,” SCDNR spokesperson Erin Weeks said.
Weeks added that starfish are often dried out by the time they are found along the beach, but says there is no harm in throwing them back into the ocean.