Starfish Are Still Disappearing From Northwest Waters – Earthfix

Catching up on this since I’m back from vacation.

A couple of years ago, divers in Puget Sound began to notice something odd: Starfish were disappearing. The sea creatures would get sores and then melt into piles of mush. Sea star wasting syndrome is a gruesome disease and it spread to starfish all along the West Coast. Scientists still don’t know a lot about it. Katie Campbell, a reporter for EarthFix and KCTS9, says that although scientists have isolated the cause, the creatures continue to die.  Katie Campbell and Isolde Raftery report. (EarthFix)

http://www.opb.org/news/article/starfish-are-still-disappearing-from-northwest-waters/

Scientists Find Out What’s Killing West Coast Starfish – Earthfix

Well, the answers are finally in, and it appears a mutated strain of a common virus to starfish has set this in motion.

SEATTLE — After months of research, scientists have identified the pathogen at the heart of the starfish wasting disease that’s been killing starfish by the millions along the Pacific shores of North America, according to research published Monday.

…The research team also plans to continue investigating environmental factors such as warming water and ocean acidification that may have caused starfish to be more susceptible to the viral infection.

Read the whole story here:

http://earthfix.opb.org/flora-and-fauna/article/scientists-find-out-whats-killing-west-coast-starf/

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.

Read the rest of the story:
http://salishseacommunications.blogspot.com/2014/04/watching-starfish-waste-away.html

Video on mysterious epidemic devastating starfish population off the Pacific Coast – KCTS & Earthfix

Short video on that covers the issues of the disease that is destroying a key predator in the marine habitat. If you have kids, this is a good quick overview. Lots of underwater shots.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/mysterious-epidemic-devastates-starfish-population-pacific-coast/

Is Fukushima Radiation Causing Pacific Starfish Die-offs?- Earthfix

Good info on a question that has been raised a lot lately.

The short answer is almost definitely no. Scientists do not see a connection between the massive die-offs of starfish along the Pacific shores of North America and Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Read the rest of the story here:

http://www.earthfix.info/flora-and-fauna/article/is-fukushima-radiation-causing-of-pacific-starfish/?utm_source=EarthFix+Weekly&utm_campaign=aa77699d69-EarthFix_Weekly_Feb_19_2014002_19_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_693d42e2f5-aa77699d69-46872029

Northwest Starfish Experiments Give Scientists Clues To Mysterious Mass Die-offs – Earthfix

More on the starfish die-off.

Near the ferry docks on Puget Sound, a group of scientists and volunteer divers shimmy into suits and double-check their air tanks… (Ben) Miner is a biology professor at Western Washington University. He studies how environmental changes affect marine life. He’s conducting experiments in hopes of figuring out how and why starfish — or sea stars, as scientists prefer to call the echinoderms — are wasting away by the tens of thousands up and down North America’s Pacific shores. Katie Campbell reports.

http://earthfix.kcts9.org/water/article/northwest-starfish-experiments-give-scientists-clu/

 

Citizen Scientists Asked To Help Search For #SickStarfish – Earthfix

This new crisis to our marine environment is spreading, and here’s a way you can help track it. From reports I’ve read, the root cause may be revealed in the next month. Scientists say they feel they are close to uncovering it. I’ll report on those findings as soon as I see them.

With thousands of miles of coastline in North America, scientists can’t be everywhere at once to keep an eye out for sick and dying starfish…. Puget Sound diver Laura James has built a new tool to make it easy for citizen scientists to help…. James and her dive buddy Lamont Granquist created a sick starfish website for tracking posts to social media sites like Twitter and Instagram. If divers, tidepoolers or beachcombers snap photos of starfish and add the hashtag #sickstarfish, their reports will automatically upload to the map. Katie Campbell reports.

http://earthfix.info/water/article/calling-all-citizen-scientists-in-search-for-sicks/

See also: Sea star wasting syndrome found in seven specimens in Freshwater Bay http://peninsuladailynews.com/article/20140131/news/301319969/sea-star-wasting-syndrome-found-in-seven-specimens-in-freshwater-bay

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