NW scientist taps into personalities, diets to help sunflower sea stars shine again – KNKX

In December, sunflower sea stars were declared critically endangered by an international union of scientists…But there is hope. Pockets of healthy populations of sunflower sea stars still exist in parts of the Salish Sea. And a scientist working at the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Labs on San Juan Island is pioneering new techniques to breed them in captivity. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

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)


Watching Starfish Waste Away – Not much new news – Salish Sea Communications

Mike Sato, my East Sound compatriot reporting on issues there in his blog, Salish Sea Communications, went to a lecture by Dr. Ben Miner, who is researching the starfish wasting disease.

(Bellingham) Those of us who might have wanted Dr. Ben Miner of Western Washington University to identify the mysterious disease that is killing starfish along the Pacific West Coast would have left his talk last Tuesday sadly unsatisfied after an hour or so. Real life and death isn’t like an hour’s episode of CSI. As with all good, rigorous science, establishing what isn’t the cause is as important as hypothesizing what might be the cause.

Mike mentions in his reporting that the disease could be either bacterial or viral, then quotes the Dr. as saying that they have protected starfish with antibiotics. If that’s true, then it’s not a virus, which would not respond to antibiotics. Just to be clear.

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