West Coast’s biggest starfish vanishing amid disease, warming oceans, study finds – Seattle Times

Not good news from the starfish front. As most of you know, the starfish wasting disease decimated our native starfish. Whether they ever return to previous numbers is in doubt. Here’s why.

A new study reveals the recent widespread die-off of starfish — linked to climate change, warming oceans and a disease epidemic — imperils the biggest starfish of all, the sunflower star.

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/starfish-slaughter-along-west-coast-imperils-biggest-starfish-of-all-as-oceans-warm/

Sea star die-off leads to kelp ‘clearcut’ in Howe Sound, scientists find – CBC

Kelp forests to the north of us in B.C. have been reduced by almost 80%. No data yet on how much our kelp has been affected. In a world not devastated by reductions in science funding under the Harper regime, there might have been an ability to open the areas to urchin harvesting to slow this problem.

The massive die-off of sea stars in B.C.’s Howe Sound has had a domino effect on other creatures, resulting in the virtual clearcut of kelp forests in the area, scientists have found.

The mysterious wasting disease hit in 2013, killing sea stars from Mexico to Alaska in what has been described as one of the largest wildlife die-offs ever recorded.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/sea-star-die-off-leads-to-kelp-clearcut-in-howe-sound-scientists-find-1.3647536

Proposed Emergency Legislation Aims To Address Starfish Wasting Syndrome – KPLU

The scientific community apparently needs more help to figure out what is happening to kill off much of our west coast starfish. It’s important to note that this is *not* happening off the African coast, and elsewhere. Something has changed in our waters, and a key link in the environmental chain is vanishing. This is an ecological disaster, and I’m happy to see Representative Heck take a leadership role in trying to find funds at the Federal level for this research. If the answers are worse than we expect, it could be a very crucial problem to solve.

Most people who’ve grown up in the Northwest can remember walking on the beach as a kid, enjoying tide pools full of brightly-colored starfish. But beachcombing has become less joyful over the past year. An epidemic known as sea star wasting syndrome has devastated huge populations of starfish, especially on the West Coast. U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, D-Olympia, has introduced an emergency act in Congress to respond to the outbreak. The syndrome was first noticed in Washington waters last summer and has spread rapidly since. White lesions appear on the skin of affected starfish which then curl up, contort and disintegrate. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KPLU)

http://kplu.org/post/proposed-emergency-legislation-aims-address-starfish-wasting-syndrome

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