lizabeth Hurley has faced a backlash after fans claimed she endangered the lives of a pair of starfish when posing with them for a holiday snap on Instagram.
The Austin Powers actress, 56, told her followers how she had “rescued” the impressive-sized creatures after finding them “stranded” on the beach.
Ms Hurley captioned the snap: “Found these magnificent starfish, alive but stranded, on the beach — they’re now happily back at the bottom of the sea.”
According to World Animal Protection however, you should never touch or remove a starfish from the water as this could lead to them suffocating.
A spokesperson for PETA told the Standard: “If these starfish were stranded on the beach, PETA applauds Liz Hurley for trying to help – but we must warn people never to pick these animals up in the water, where they live.
“They have delicate, fragile bodies and arms, with an eyespot at the tip of each one, all of which can easily be injured – and touching them can potentially transfer bacteria as well as soap and sunscreen onto them, which can kill them.”
Her post didn’t sit well with others, however, who were quick to reproach her in the comments section.
“They are extremely delicate and most likely won’t survive once you take them out of the sea and manipulate them,” wrote one person, among the comments.
Others said: “They are beautiful, too bad they died after you took that photo.”
“Careful, certain starfish die when you touch them.”
According to James Cook University marine biologist Professor Morgan Pratchett the starfish in question appear to be the Red Cushion Sea Star (Oreaster reticulatus).
Speaking to news.com.au, he said:“It is not uncommon for them to be washed up on a beach.
“It’s unlikely that they would die from being out of the water for a few minutes but it does depend how long the starfish were out of the water /stranded on the beach.”
The Standard have contacted a representative for Ms Hurley for comment.