A LANCING litter picker made an unusual discovery when he spotted this spikey starfish on the beach.
Council road sweeper Neil Godfrey, 30, of Kings Road, Lancing, found the creature just off the beach path at Widewater Lagoon at around 10am on Tuesday.
Neil said he had never seen a starfish quite like it in all his time litter picking on Lancing beach.
“I have seen starfish before, especially after the storms earlier this year when a lot got washed up on the roads, but I have never seen one with those sort of defences,” said Neil.
Neil decided to leave his discovery on top of a groyne for others to see.
“I wouldn’t want to keep it,” he said. “It belongs to the beach.”
The starfish is roughly the size of a man’s hand and covered in hard defensive spines.
Marine biologist Steve Savage said the specimen did not appear to be native to the UK, and was most likely a horned sea star, imported to this country as an ornament.
“It does not look like any starfish I have seen in the UK,” he said. “It does look like a decorative starfish you can buy as an ornament and this would be a strong option.”
The horneed sea star’s scientific name is protoreaster nodosus, but it is also known as the chocolate chip sea star.
The species is usually found in seagrass meadows in the Pacific, around the Seychelles, New Caledonia and off southern Japan.