Sea Star Project Returns With Starfish Scavenger Hunt

Jul 25, 2018
Source: Supplied

When Miranda Jewels, 23, of Burlington, began the Sea Star Project back in the summer of 2014, she never expected it to become a Long Beach Island staple. However, today the Sea Star Project has over 3,000 followers on Instagram and is a household name for many local inhabitants and visitors.

The Sea Star Project is an Island-wide scavenger hunt for 1,000 starfish, which runs throughout the summer, ending on Labor Day. Helped in part by her family, Jewels paints and tags dozens of starfish at the beginning of the week, each with a new theme, which are then hidden throughout the Island. After the stars have been placed, clues are posted onto Instagram, and the hunt begins. The first person to find a star gets to keep it as a reward. Stars can be found anywhere, from the top of Barnegat Lighthouse to the zero-mile marker in Holgate.

Originally an anonymous poster, Jewels created the project “to get people on the Island talking and wondering,” she said. Although she revealed her identity at the end of 2014 with the intention to end the project, she realized “how much everyone loved the project and knew (she) had to do it again.” In 2015, bottles containing messages were hidden; after a two-year hiatus, she has returned to hide a total of 1,000 stars throughout the summer season.

Today, “the purpose of the project is to spread smiles and give locals and vacationers something fun to do.” The project has been successful in fulfilling this mission – Jewels frequently receives messages from hunters about how much fun they had while searching.

For Nicole Heyer, 28, of South Brunswick, finding a star has been a three-year process. A summer resident of Beach Haven West, Heyer and her mom adamantly tracked the Instagram account, hoping to get their own star. Unfortunately, they would “drive places and see people get stars seconds before” they reached the location. In early July of this year, Heyer finally obtained her own star, which added “another level of excitement.”

For those eager to find a star of their own, Jewels revealed the method to her madness: She tries “to match the placement of the stars with the theme for the week. For example, red, white and blue stars were placed with American flags or patriotic window displays.”

Recently Jewels has also started using Instagram’s “live” feature, where followers can see stars being hidden in real time. Stars left over from the week are brought to popular locations such as Bay Village in Beach Haven. Those watching the live videos are able to see exactly where Jewels is and go get a star while also meeting the brains behind the project.

With well over a month left in the season, there is still plenty of time for those who have not yet found a star to do so. Be on the lookout!

The Sea Star Project can be found on Instagram at @the_sea_star_project.

– Morgan Turner


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