ISLE OF PALMS, S.C. (AP) - Officials say thousands of dead starfish near Charleston are the first sign of what could be a dangerous winter for marine life along South Carolina's coast.
The Post and Courier of Charleston reported Thursday that the starfish died because coastal water temperatures had gone down drastically after frigid conditions in early December.
That same chill didn't happen last year until mid-January. Biologists worry that the early cool-down could mean death for shrimp, sea trout and red drum.
State climate experts say computer models show drops to freezing temperatures for at least the next three or four weeks. But fisheries management director Mel Bell says the starfish deaths aren't widespread enough to do serious damage to the area's overall population.
Information from: The Post and Courier, http://www.postandcourier.com