It wasn't pollution or radiation from Japan that caused thousands of starfish to wash up on the shores of Pawleys Island on Monday night.
The answer is much simpler, said Phil Maier, spokesman for the S.C. Department of Natural Resources' Marine Division: rough water.
Maier said the starfish can become dislodged from the rocks they stick to when the weather is rough, as it was Monday night.
Mandy Coble and her children, Charles and Carolina Coble, and their friend Breland Gann were walking on Pawleys Island on Monday night when they first saw "hundreds" of the starfish.
Coble said by Tuesday morning there were "thousands ... piled on top of one another."
Though Coble said she believed the starfish were dead, Maier said they likely are not.
"It's harder to tell, but if you turn them over you'll see their little feet moving," he said.
Maier said there's no need for residents to pick up the starfish or throw them into the ocean.
"Nature will take care of them," he said.