Sea Stars Continue to Die By the Millions from Alaska to California: Is It A Virus?

“The situation in Puget Sound looks really grim. It’s really bad there.
Several different species (of sea stars) — they are just dying like flies.”

- Neil McDaniel, Videographer and Naturalist, Vancouver, B. C., August 2014

 

Healthy sea stars on a rock outcrop near Croker Island, Indian Arm, British Columbia, on Oct. 9, 2013. Underwater image © 2013 by Neil McDaniel.
Healthy sea stars on a rock outcrop near Croker Island, Indian Arm, British Columbia, on Oct. 9, 2013. Underwater image © 2013 by Neil McDaniel.
20 days later, the living creatures on the same rock outcrop have died, Croker Island,  Indian Arm, British Columbia, on October 29, 2013. Image © 2013 by Neil McDaniel.
20 days later, the living creatures on the same rock outcrop have died, Croker Island, Indian Arm, British Columbia, on October 29, 2013. Image © 2013 by Neil McDaniel.

August 27, 2014  Vancouver, Washington and Miami, Florida - The northeast Pacific Ocean from Alaska to Vancouver and down the West Coast  has been warmer than usual for months. At the same time, millions of sea stars — at least a dozen different species of them — have rotted away in a mysterious wasting disease that causes arms to drop off and then the bodies to dissolve away. Cornell University DNA research is said to be leading up to publication that the cause is a virus. But many scientists are linking the warming waters and warming climate change to an increase in all kinds of microbes that cause disease from the disintegrating sea stars to the decline in corals all over the planet.

 

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