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On Tuesday, the British model, actress and swimsuit designer took to Instagram and uploaded a picture of herself sporting an aqua string bikini. The 56-year-old was all smiles on the beach while holding two starfish.
“Found these magnificent starfish, alive but stranded, on the beach – they’re now happily back at the bottom of the sea,” she captioned the photo.
While many of her 2.3 million followers praised her famous physique, others took issue with her holding the animals for a photo.
“They are extremely delicate and most likely won’t survive once you take them out of the sea and manipulate them… Google it,” one commenter wrote.
“You must not take them out of the water,” another warned.
“You just killed those stars by taking them out of the water,” another chimed.
“And the relevance of the star fish is?” one questioned.
“They are beautiful, too bad they died after you took that photo,” one wrote. “People must know that starfish die when you take them out of the water!”
In response, a spokesperson for Hurley told Fox News Digital: “She found the starfish stranded on the beach – probably washed up in the tide – she doesn’t know for sure. She picked them up, waded into the sea and placed them back in the water.”
According to National Geographic, starfish, or “sea stars,” are purely marine animals. There are no freshwater sea stars and only a few live in brackish water. The outlet noted that there are some 2,000 species of starfish living in all the world’s oceans and their average life span in the wild is up to 35 years.
According to James Cook University marine biologist Professor Morgan Pratchett, the starfish in question appear to be the Red Cushion Sea Star (Oreaster reticulatus).
“It is not uncommon for them to be washed up on the beach,” he told news.com.au. “It’s unlikely that they would die from being out of the water for a few minutes, but it does depend on how long the starfish were out of the water [or] stranded on the beach.”
Many were quick to defend Hurley in the comments section.
“Oreaster reticulatus can routinely be washed up on the beach with little harm,” one replied. “They are quite robust. But please, keep the rage going!”
“Comprehend much? She found them stranded on the beach and put them back into the water. It’s literally in the post,” another commented.
“Read her comment again,” another replied, referring to Hurley’s caption.
“So many pervy comments! Respect people! Awesome you got to enjoy the ocean and help mother nature in the process too,” added another.
Hurley launched her London-based swimwear line in 2005.
“I decided to venture into beachwear not only because I’ve always been obsessed with vacation clothes, but also because it’s an area where women, regardless of shape or size, can either look amazing or really get it wrong. I wanted to develop resort collections, which make women feel fabulous at any age,” she announced on the company’s site.
In May 2017, the star told Closer Weekly that being a mom inspired her to launch the brand. She previously took a break from Hollywood to focus on motherhood but found herself wanting to do something new professionally.
“Looking after my son became my number one task, and it was a joy to have someone else on whom to focus,” Hurley told the magazine. “I was 36 and had been worrying about myself for quite long enough. I stopped doing movies and TV for the first eight years of his life, and I don’t regret it for a moment. I always put him first.”
When it came to launching her swimwear collection, Hurley added, “It allowed me to be more flexible with my time and work when Damian was at school.”
Still, Hurley insisted she was eager to take on new challenges as her son grew older.
“I love my life,” she said. “I love change and I love new experiences.”