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Pacific Sea Stars
Why Are Millions of Starfish ‘Melting’?

November 20, 2014

Why such a pervasive virus is suddenly killing millions of animals is still up for debate.

“We’ve seen big outbreaks in sea stars before,” said Pete Raimondi, a marine ecologist with the University of California, Santa Cruz, earlier this year, “but they’ve been very regional.”

This current outbreak stretches from southern Alaska down through Canada and the U.S. West Coast, into Baja California. (See an interactive map of locations.)

Previous events were relegated to one or two species, but the virus is now infecting 20. (See a full list of affected species.)

It’s unusual for a single type of virus to infect so many species. But mutations in a key part of a virus, called the capsid, can help the infection spread to more species, the study authors write.


Starfish making West Coast comeback after syndrome killed millions

December 26, 2017

From 2013 to 2014, Sea Star Wasting Syndrome hit sea stars from British Columbia to Mexico. The starfish would develop lesions and then disintegrate, their arms turning into blobs of goo. Now, the species is rebounding and being spotted in Southern California and elsewhere.


Despite Glimmers of Hope, Starfish Are Still Wasting Away

Jan. 2, 2018

After a mysterious disease killed millions of sea stars up and down the West Coast in recent years, they’ve shown some signs of recovery in pockets of southern California. But, in the Pacific Northwest, they’re still suffering.


Marine researchers say recent sea star wasting disease epidemic defies prediction

Some sea star communities on the west coast could recover, but marine scientists still can't pinpoint the environmental factors behind the unprecedented disease outbreak

March 20, 2018

Beginning in 2013, a mysterious disease crippled sea star populations up and down the U.S. west coast. Over a matter of months, many sea star species died in record-breaking numbers, though the ochre sea star was among the hardest hit. Now, researchers have analyzed just how much the populations of this species have declined, but they have not yet determined what factors might be contributing to the epidemic.


Sea star wasting disease


Method of decomposing calcium carbonate

We always ask what have we done because we don't know what we are doing.


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