Sea stars wasting away on both U.S. coasts
Evidence suggests that we are at the onset of another sea star wasting event. Sea stars on both the east and west coasts of the United States have fallen victim to a wasting disease that overcomes the Pisaster ochraceus in a matter of days once an initial lesion appears. The disease, while currently not understood, is rapidly transmitted amongst the population once it takes hold. On the west coast studies show that the disease is bacterial but on the east coast it is viral. Both result in a similar disintegration of the flesh within a very short period of time.
Sea Star Wasting Syndrome has been documented for the last three decades by research teams from the University of California, Santa Cruz Pacific Rocky Intertidal Monitoring Program. Scientists have suspected warmer than normal temperatures associated with climate change to be a potential cause. Wasting events have been documented in the past, in particular, one event dating back to 1983-84 in Southern California and a second, albeit smaller event, between 1997-98. West coast monitoring has been done at more than 200 sites from Southeast Alaska to Mexico. Additional studies have been done on the east coast off the coast of Maine.
Read the full story here.