Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Finding Diseased Sea Stars in Tide Pools

Sea star missing legs. Photo from UCSC
When exploring tide pools anywhere between Alaska and California, watch out.  You might find a sea star (starfish) missing legs or looking really gross.

What is wrong with them?  

Up and down the Pacific west coast, sea stars have a disease called Sea Star Wasting Disease.  It can kill a group of sea stars within just 24 hours or a few days.

Scientists at the University of California, Santa Cruz, along with
A leather star (Dermasterias imbricata) just beginning to show signs of the disease, seen on San Juan Island in October 2013; Photo: Keith Rootsaert
other researchers remain unsure why this disease has hit the west coast sea star population so rapidly.  There is a bacterium (vibrio) that scientists have identified through pathology.  And warmer ocean waters are also suspected as a cause.

With an adult, you can participate in observing the sea star wasting symptoms.  Visit

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