“Starballing”: a potential explanation for mass stranding


The common starfish Asterias rubens has a long-lived pelagic larva that is considered to be the driver for the wide dispersal of this species, as adult A. rubens are thought to be limited to slow movement. Unexplained mass beach strandings of A. rubens have been witnessed during strong wind and tide conditions. Here, we describe a new observation, “starballing,” where adult A. rubens were observed being transported with a strong tidal flow, which might explain how mass stranding occurs.

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We thank INTERREG IV A and the European Regional Development Fund for funding the project (PANACHE) that led to this observation.

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Correspondence to Emma V. Sheehan.

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Communicated by S. Stöhr

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Sheehan, E.V., Cousens, S.L. “Starballing”: a potential explanation for mass stranding. Mar Biodiv 47, 617–618 (2017) doi:10.1007/s12526-016-0504-3

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  • Asterias rubens
  • Dispersal mechanism
  • Mass strandings
  • Behaviour
  • Benthic