Plight of the Starfish

Regular readers of this blog know we here at SeaLuxe love our ocean-related news. So, we hope that you are just as excited as we are to hear that starfish populations are on the rebound after a devastating loss due to a wasting disease that took its toll on sea stars up and down the West Coast.

The height of the die-offs hit in 2014, with millions of starfish dying. Scientists, looking for answers, noted that sea surface temperatures in the northeast Pacific Ocean were the warmest recorded in decades. They later confirmed the warm temperatures, due to climate change, played a part in what’s now known as the single largest, most geographically widespread marine disease ever recorded.

Starfish are known to be stressed by warmer temperatures as it hurts their immune systems. Plus, a lot of infectious bacteria replicates quicker at warmer temperatures making the combination a two-prong attack. The wasting disease caused the starfish to lose legs and dissolve into goo.

“The wasting disease infected more than 20 species of starfish as far south as Mexico and as far north as Alaska. Some species, like the sunflower star, have been hit so hard in California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and Southern Alaska that diver surveys since then have found very few survivors,” according to Oregon Public Broadcasting

Scientists have discovered a massive sea star baby boom this year and new research suggests the babies may have evolved to promote genetic resistance to the virus that is causing the wasting disease. Read more here

Nature is incredible.