Marine Biodiversity

, Volume 47, Issue 2, pp 617–618 | Cite as

“Starballing”: a potential explanation for mass stranding

  • Emma V. SheehanEmail author
  • Sophie L. Cousens
Short Communication


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.


Asterias rubens Dispersal mechanism Mass strandings Behaviour Benthic 



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

Supplementary material


(MP4 26676 kb)


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Copyright information

© Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Plymouth University Marine Institute, Drakes CircusPlymouthUK

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