Vapor rose from the sea’s surface, dancing in the light breeze like hundreds of charmed cobras. The air temperature was 38 degrees, but the ocean, still warmed from a long, hot summer, was at least 20 degrees higher, resulting in an ethereal fog as the sun peeked out over the sea.
The lavender horizon turned orange, peach, and then yellow as dawn evolved to day. The virtually empty beach was crazy cold. Only a nutcase would be out that early.
I looked north and south and there wasn’t anyone else for hundreds of yards either way. There were no shell beds or sharks teeth to be found. But it was so clear and beautiful that it made no sense for me to regret leaving my apartment. Then I looked down and found something that made the morning even more special. A starfish.
A few of its tubular feet were still moving, but it was clear that this starfish had eaten its last mollusk. It spoke with me telepathically.
“Straighten out my legs.”
“What? What did you say?”
“Clean out your ears. I said straighten out my legs. I want to die with my legs straight.”
That was the least that I could do. I granted the starfish its dying wish.
“You’ll be okay, pardner. You’re going home with me.”
I reckon the starfish took that as a threat; it never moved another podia. At least it died with its hundreds of boots on.
In all seriousness, a beached starfish is a doomed starfish. If they are in a tidal pool, they still stand a fighting chance. And fighters they are. They may be docile looking, but these creatures are voracious when in their home territory, eating clams and other echinoderms. Starfish are invertebrates, but they don’t lack a backbone when it comes to aggressiveness.
There are over 1,800 starfish species in the world’s oceans. But, this morning, when I found my Star on the Grand Strand, there were none more important.