PORT SAINT JOE, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - For Bud and Susan Whiten, a stroll on the beach in Port St. Joe early Sunday afternoon turned out to be a little fishy.
"We walk this beach every day if we can, preferably at low tide, looking for shell, coral, whatever we can see because it's a beautiful nature area," Susan Whiten said.
But they said their trip to the beach left them star struck.
"We saw what looked to be a whole lot of shells that had washed up, but it was actually thousands of starfish," Whiten said. "I just couldn't imagine that there would be any starfish left as many as we saw. It was just unbelievable."
"I've never seen it like this before," Mike Forbess, a resident from Callaway, said. "There's just thousands upon thousands of them. We walked on the beach for maybe a quarter mile, and it was just solid dead starfish."
The Whitens said they saw thousands of starfish lined up and down the shoreline about a mile east of the public access point at St. Joe Bay.
But Whiten and others say they hope to not see other creatures show up on shore.
"I just hope that we don't see another specimen wash up like we did these," Whiten said. "We do see occasional horseshoe crab and sea slugs, but we just hope that there aren't a lot of these that wash up."
"I hate to see it, but I guess it's just part of nature," Forbess said.
WJHG/WECP spoke with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officials about the case.
They said they receive calls about similar cases every so often.
Researchers said environmental factors such as temperature change or the recent case of red tide could've caused the starfish to wash ashore.
FWC officials said they plan on studying the area in general after researching this particular case.