THE Victorian Fisheries Authority has identified about 50 dead seastars left on Mornington pier as environmental pests, northern Pacific seastars.
The invasive seastars are thought to have been introduced into Port Phillip through ship ballast water from Japan in 1995.
Fully formed Northern Pacific seastars can grow from the severed arm of just one injured individual and the VFA recommends that they be dumped in waste bins rather than being thrown back into the water or left on the pier.
Stacey Fallowfield was dismayed and photographed (above) seastars seemingly left to die on Mornington pier mid-November.
“I enjoy walking down to the pier and, spotting the starfish with my baby, was saddened to see they were no longer in the water and appeared to have been cruelly placed along the pier to die,” she said.
“To make things worse, on my walk on Sunday it appeared that some people were using what looked like fresh starfish as bait for fishing. And the starfish that were scattered on Friday were either trampled on or pushed into grooves.”
The VFA says northern Pacific seastars should not be used as bait as any broken bits of the seastar could then grow into a fully formed seastar.
It says the seastars “have a voracious appetite and will eat anything they can catch”.
“They produce millions of eggs and can grow a full body from a single arm.
The VFA does not recommend removing northern Pacific seastars from the environment unless their identity can be confirmed as the look similar to other less destructive native seastars.
Sightings can be reported to firstname.lastname@example.org