Why are There No Starfish in Playa Estrella/Starfish Beach?

One of the most famous destinations in the world is Starfish Beach.

Locally known as Playa Estrella, the beach is at the northwest tip of Isla Colon, the main island of Bocas del Toro. One can take a 30 minute taxi to the beach or take a bus shuttle that leaves from town about every 15 minutes for $5 roundtrip.
What has happened the past recent years is that Starfish Beach got VERY popular.
People from all over began visiting Bocas and this beach. People began holding the starfish – which one should never do.
Starfish Disappearing


When I visited Starfish Beach, I had heard that they were disappearing.
I cannot account for how many there were before my visit this year, but I can assure you they are there.
Do you know where they are?


They are deeper in the ocean, where you need a snorkel to swim out and see them.
The main reasons the starfish are not as close to the shore is due to tourists and movement of visitors in the ocean.
When one first gets to Starfish Beach, you really get to Bocas del Drago. That is the drop off area. One can walk for 30 minutes to the actual Starfish Beach area or take a #1 water taxi.
I chose to walk. On the secluded beaches you pass, you will randomly see a starfish here and there in the shallow. I saw maybe three on my walk over.
When you are at Starfish Beach, there are many bars, restaurants, and people. They are everywhere. I could not see the starfish in the shallows but I had my mask and snorkel handy.
If you swim out even a few yards, you might see a few. Where more and more starfish are, is at the end of the reef before the ocean bottom dips into deeper waters. This is where the most and the biggest!
I snorkeled for a long time and I saw maybe one other snorkeler.
We are the Reason


On my way out of the beach, I decided to walk along the beach line. I found a starfish in the shallows. I took out my tripod and camera to catch myself in a photo. Before I could even do that, a group of 8 persons came over and I told them to go first for a photo. Literally, you can see the starfish moving into deeper waters.
I had never seen a starfish move, but it went fast and it wanted to be away from us.
Fact proven – they move away from tourists even though no one touched it.
How many will remain in the future, again I am not sure.
What I am sure of is that we are the reason they do not linger by the surface anymore.
What was your experience at Starfish Beach?