Why You Shouldn’t Pick up Starfish

Why You Shouldn’t Pick up Starfish

Yes, they're beautiful, but here’s why you should leave them in the ocean
Alexander & VictoriaHi! We're Alex & Victoria - a digital nomad couple from Copenhagen escaping 9-5 to chase adventures in our beautiful world. Learn more about us here.

The disappointing reality

While visiting Phu Quoc in March-April 2019 we heard a lot about a famous beach called Starfish Beach.

It’s famous for… Well, you guessed it… Starfish (or Sea Stars!).

It’s not the first beach we have seen with starfish.

In fact, we have been to another beach called Starfish Beach in Bocas Del Toro, Panama – and in The Philippines, we saw a few different beaches with starfish too.

But everywhere, we see the same thing happening…

People are touching, lifting, holding, moving, rearranging and playing with the starfish.

All for the perfect photo.

We have even heard about people throwing them around in the water and some take starfish with them back home in plastic bags as souvenirs.

It’s wrong, it’s irresponsible and it makes us so sad…

This act may appear innocent and harmless but it can be fatal for these wonderful creatures.

Let us tell you why.

The famed Starfish Beach
Starfish Beach on Phu Quoc in Vietnam.
Starfish in Vietnam
Scientifically, starfish are classed as Asteroidea. Pretty cool name, right?

Some facts about starfish


  • …are not fish but they need to breathe to live and they can only do that underwater. They suffocate in the air.
  • …are prone to mental stress and they react to small changes in their environment. Imagine what it must do to the stress level being forced out of the water.
  • …are extremely fragile and they have tiny structures all over their bodies that might get hurt by a human’s touch. Even a gentle poke can be harmful.
  • …can get contaminated with bacteria passed on from the hands of a human which can result in a slow and painful death.

Doing anything else than looking at starfish will harm them and in most cases, it will be the cause of their death.

Starfish in water
Starfish are beautiful, fragile creatures.

Be a part of the solution

We know that many people don’t know this.

That it’s not on purpose.

And we do not want to blame anybody, but instead, simply point out that we are all responsible when it comes to the future of our planet and its inhabitants.

That’s why we need to spread awareness.

We need to take better care of these magical marine animals.

And you can help too!

Next time you go to the beach and have the urge to take some beautiful photos, better not risking another creature’s life.

If you see someone harming starfish by picking them up or moving them, you can step in and inform the person about the damage it can cause. Objectively and without blame.

Disturbing nature for the perfect Instagram photo is NOT worth it!

Please abstain from touching the starfish at Starfish Beach
She most likely meant no harm, but touching and moving the starfish hurt them.

Proper behaviour around starfish

Starfish belong in the water

The starfish live in the ocean.

They like being there.

And they actually need to breathe underwater.

Don’t sacrifice the health of the starfish for your next Instagram post.

Bocas del Toro's Starfish Beach (Playa Estrella)
Bocas del Toro’s Starfish Beach (Playa Estrella).

Be careful where you step

If you’re going for a swim or walk into the water to get closer to the starfish, mind your steps.

Alex proudly enjoying the Starfish Beach without touching any starfish
Alex proudly enjoying the Starfish Beach without touching any starfish.

Starfish are not souvenirs

This is pretty much self-explanatory, but seriously…

Do not take them with you back home.

Starfish in Panama
Starfish in Panama.

Photograph the starfish underwater

It’s not impossible to get a good photo of a starfish.

And you can even take the picture in their natural habitat!

If you want to take underwater photos, you can use an underwater camera, a GoPro or a waterproof case for your phone.

A starfish in its right habitat
A starfish in its right habitat.

To sum it all up

It’s quite simple. These beautiful animals are very fragile.

Do not disturb them and enjoy the starfish without touching them.

Starfish are living creatures and so pretty
This starfish loves you for leaving it in the ocean.

Thank you for reading

And thank you for wanting to take better care of all living beings, including starfish.

You are amazing!

To help spread awareness, you can share this article with a friend or on your social media profiles.

Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments too.

Why You Shouldn't Pick Up Starfish from the Beach
Why You Shouldn't Pick Up Starfish from the Beach
Why You Shouldn't Pick Up Starfish from the Beach

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