Photos: Rare Starfish Found on PCB Florida Shore

Lisa Mason Lee - May 21, 2011

Rare Starfish PCB Florida

My mother and I were taking a dip into the Panama City Beach ocean, when we spotted something in the ocean, washing up near the shoreline. We took a closer look and realized it was a creature of some sort! So we got a plastic cup, and scooped the lifeless creature up to see what it was. We established that it was a black and white spotted starfish that had died… so we thought…

We started taking close-up photos of what we thought was a deceased starfish. It did not move initially, but then a few minutes passed, and we saw a few of it’s tiny tentacles move!

Lisa Finds Starfish


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As soon as we saw a few tentacles move, people were surrounding us, asking us what it was! In this moment I knew we had to get the starfish back into the water- we had to get him further out in the ocean to stand a chance at life.

I ran over to some kids with sand castle buckets and asked them if I could borrow a bucket to save the starfish, and they complied. I filled the bucket with ocean water and put the starfish inside. People wanted to see the famous starfish, take photos with him and kids wanted to hold him, but I had to cut everyones wishes short so we could save his life in time! I took Mr. Starfish in the bucket, went as far as I could into the ocean, whisked him into the deep ocean, and set him free.

I don’t know anything about these beautiful creatures, but I had a feeling that he got caught up in the waves, which pushed him up near the unfriendly shore, so he needed to be set further out in the ocean so he could survive easier. Starfish do not seem like they are strong swimmers- they glide with the current, and they are meant to stay away from the deadly shore.

I looked around on the Internet to see if I could find which breed of starfish we found, and there was no photo of his kind! I did learn that starfish are ‘echinoderms’, who live up to 35 years in the wild, they do not have brains nor blood, and they breath by filtering ocean water in and out of them. What an amazing experience!

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  • jan stahmer

    I visited Cape San Blas two weeks ago. I used a net and captured about eight starfish.
    I was told they were dying and that is why they were floating to the shore. I let them dry and brought them back to Virginia. There is still an odor. I am so pleased to have found them. I love treasures from the ocean and these are definitely a great find.

  • Debbie

    We just came back from gulf shores and we found the exact same kind!

  • Samantha

    This past weekend I went to PCB, didn’t see any there. However, we stopped at St. George Island on our way home. We went to the state park located on the island. There were at least 10 of these washed up on the shore. Some appeared to have been ate. Some were whole. But none of them moved or seemed alive. However, at the time I did not know much about star fish until I got home and googled. Haha. But I also could not find any information on this star fish. Your post is the only thing that I have found. I find it very bizarre.

  • S Todd

    Actually, these are not rare (per se) – their name is Luidia Alternata – Stripe Sea Star, and they live in both the Atlantic & Gulf of Mexico waters, as far south as the Caribbean. Its not often we have the treat to see them on shore because they live deep & it requires more of a surge to loosen them. But she did exactly the right thing in taking him out & throwing him into the water. When they wash ashore, they are usually still alive. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Laura Barnwell Zarboni

    No there black stripes

  • Laura Barnwell Zarboni

    I found a dead one tangled in sea weed in PCB, he was dead so I brought him home. He’s hanging on my sea-net with all the other things we have found at the beach. Even after he dried completely he still has the black stripes on him. Mine the legs look much longer but not as fat around.. he’s about 18” wide with his legs all slightly curled to the left on the ends. I have looked and looked and can’t find a ID on him either

  • Gracie p

    We found him too! In the PCB shore this morning!

  • Matee

    Check that off the list of thigns I was confused about.

  • Anonymous

    Lisa me and my girlfriends family were in panama city beach on june 9th 2011 and we found one identical to the one you posted pics of, like you we did our research and the pics you posted were the only ones we could find that matched ours I’m going to try and post our pics of it soon

  • unoloquito

    Lisa, you should have introduced yourself. Hi!! My name is Lisa, and I am a star too!!! :)

  • iamascarecrow

    Good for you Lisa!!! When a starfish eats, they spit out their stomach, and when they are done, they suck their stomach back in.

  • WOW!

  • unoloquito

    are those crude oil spots on the starfish? :)