Sea Star Wasting DiseaseSeptember 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: https://www.eeb.ucsc.edu/pacificrockyintertidal/sea-star-wasting-link/index.html
By 2018, Ocean Sanctuaries hopes to have its own citizen science SSWD monitoring program open to the public and tide poolers.
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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.
"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