Oddities in the Ocean / Podcasts and Videos

Film Friday: “Sea Star Wasting Syndrome” causes devastation in starfish populations

Everyone seems to enjoy imagining what it must be like to have starfish’s limb regeneration capabilities: see earlier post here.

But a mystery disease that causes a sea star’s arms to crawl away from each other until the star is literally ripped apart has been increasing in prevalence over the last several years: this video reports mainly on its effect in Puget Sound and the West Coast. The disease also takes away the regenerative ability of these arms, so the star never grows back. I know, it sounds like something out of a horror movie, or a scene from the bowels of the Tower of London, but it’s a real thing that’s been attracting researchers interested in trying to figure out exactly where it came from.

Is it a foreign pathogen that has recently arrived on our Pacific Coast? Or just another disease exacerbated by ocean acidification? Or maybe it’s a result of other environmental conditions related to climate change. Scientists aren’t certain, but if you want to check out the observations yourself, more information can be found here, and here.

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