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Sea Star Wasting Disease

September 12 2017

Part of an ongoing effort to assist marine scientists at UC Santa Cruz in monitoring this disease which has been devastating the sea star (star fish) population along the US and Canadian West Coast since around 2014.

See here for more information:

By 2018, Ocean Sanctuaries hopes to have its own citizen science SSWD monitoring program open to the public and tide poolers.

September 12 2017


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Mission Underway

Sept. 13:

Ocean conditions in Laguna today were not conducive to safe diving: surf was high (3 ft. plus) and there was a noticeable rip current, which normally would not have been a problem going out, but on a steep-facing beach like Shaw's Cover, would have presented a difficult re-entry on the way back in, so the decision was made to come back another day when conditions were better suited to scientific surveys.

Hi there! What equipment are you using to take underwater photos? Can't wait to see.

I just use a Go Pro camera, set to video to take most of my stuff. Since it doesn't need to be magazine quality--only research grade--that seem to be good enough.

Preparation Stage

On Sept. 13, some of us will be diving Shaw's Cove in Laguna, preparing to photographically document the presence/absence of healthy/diseased sea stars and will post what we find here.

Expedition Background

"Sea stars along much of the North American Pacific coast are dying in great numbers from a mysterious wasting syndrome. Similar die-offs have occurred before in the 1970s, 80s, and the 90s, but never before at this magnitude and over such a wide geographic area. Pisaster ochraceus and many other species of sea stars have been affected by the current sea star wasting syndrome event. The following paper by Hewson et al. “Densovirus associated with sea-star wasting disease and mass mortality” provides evidence for a link between a densovirus (SSaDV) and sea star wasting syndrome (SSWS) but there is still much work to be done before this mysterious disease is fully understood."


Photo: Sunflower Sea Star (Pycnopodia helianthoides) Credit: Michael Bear


Great to see the expedition, Michael! Excited to follow along.

Thanks, David: I also set one up for the 7 Gill shark project. :)