Sea Star 'Goo' Problem Getting Worse
Oregon had seemed to be unscathed by the disease. No more
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore, Newser Staff
Posted Jun 10, 2014 8:29 AM CDT
This undated photo released by the Rocky Intertidal Lab shows a starfish suffering from "sea star wasting disease" - it's missing one arm and has tissue damage to another.   (AP Photo/Laura Anderson, Rocky Intertidal Lab UC Santa Cruz)

(Newser) – A mysterious disease that has been claiming the lives of sea stars up and down the US, Canadian, and Mexican coasts since last summer has now wiped out as much as 60% of the populations of purple ochre sea stars being watched in Oregon—populations that as of April had seen less than 1% of its numbers affected. Creatures suffering from the "sea star wasting syndrome" first cross their arms, then break out in white lesions that turn into holes, and ultimately disintegrate to the point where their entire arms can turn to goo. And while wasting is not a new occurrence, "usually it's very localized to a single site or single region," which healthy neighboring populations can recolonize, biologist Bruce Menge tells Live Science.

But in this case, the outbreak that began in June in Washington has touched places as distant as Alaska and New Jersey, and it's now hit Oregon, the sole West Coast state that had essentially been unscathed. In May, the Weather Network reported that a bacterial or viral pathogen may be at the root of the die-off, though no definitive cause has been established. What has been established, however, is that 95% of infected sea stars perish. "It's very serious," Menge tells the Weather Network, and he zeroes in on one potential cause for alarm: "Some of the sea stars most heavily affected are keystone predators," which typically feast on the mussels that occupy Oregon's low shores, preventing the mussels' numbers from skyrocketing. The sea stars "influence the whole diversity of life in the intertidal zone."

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Showing 3 of 5 comments
ChemE Stewart
Jun 11, 2014 11:30 AM CDT
All of our overlapping microwave radiation from pulsed Doppler radars, RF/TV and Cellular towers, polarizing water molecules and dissolving CaCO3 exoskeleton of the starfish. All that radiation is not FREE. Research @ darkmattersalot.
Jun 10, 2014 1:29 PM CDT
And does anyone care ? seemingly not. Perhaps one day, when we forget about the GOP or the Dems., we will find out why we should.
Italiano Italianoa
Jun 10, 2014 11:37 AM CDT
Possible seeing the first cases of Fukasheema Reactor dumping radioactive water into the pacific!