THOUSANDS of sea creatures were washed up on beaches in Frinton and Walton following the sudden drop in temperatures combined with the Spring tide.

Beach users were greeted by the horrific scene of dead crabs and starfish on Sunday morning.

It is thought that the icy weather helped to kill off thousands of creatures, including eels and lobsters.

Harwich and Manningtree Standard:

Picture: Paul Mynors

Starfish feed on molluscs around mussel beds, but can be lifted up and carried to the shore by strong currents.

It is thought that the animals were then killed by the sudden drop in temperature.

Paul Mynors, from Frinton, captured images of the starfish on Walton beach.

He said: "I was walking along the promenade and I could hear people talking on the beach - they were saying that they had never seen anything like it.

"I walked down to the beach and was both fascinated and saddened by the sight of such a vast assortment of sea life just piled up against the steps.

"This phenomena seems to be quite widespread along our coast and is certainly of great concern."

Harwich and Manningtree Standard:

Picture: Paul Mynors

Clacton MP Giles Watling also spotted dead crabs and lobsters on the beach in Frinton.

He said: "I was walking my dogs and spotted all the crabs along the seashore.

"I haven't seen it before, but thought something exceptional must have happened and must have been linked to the weather.

"I spoke to local fishermen about it and was told this can happen in cold weather, especially when there's an easterly wind.

"It's very sad to see a sight like this, but it's just nature."

Harwich and Manningtree Standard:

Picture: Paul Mynors

Earlier this year dogs died across Norfolk and Suffolk from paralytic shellfish poisoning, which is caused when animals consume shellfish contaminated with algae.

Although the washing up of the creatures in Frinton and Walton is not thought to be linked to the contamination, dog walkers are still being urged to prevent their pets eating anything found on beaches in Tendring.

Pet owners are advised to keep dogs under close control, on leads or muzzled.

Any owners of pets that have become ill after consuming items on a beach are asked to report the matter to Tendring Council once a vet has confirmed they meet the possible symptoms of paralytic shellfish poisoning.