Dying Starfish photo - by Neal McDaniel

Sea stars along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts are dying in large numbers of a mysterious wasting disease that turns their delicate bodies to goo. Sea stars—commonly called starfish—off the West Coast are suffering their largest known die-off, affecting more species than any previous disease event.  

Epidemic Wiping Out Sea Stars on Both Coasts

December 11, 2013

Dying Starfish photo - by Neal McDaniel

Sea stars along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts are dying in large numbers of a mysterious wasting disease that turns their delicate bodies to goo. Sea stars—commonly called starfish—off the West Coast are suffering their largest known die-off, affecting more species than any previous disease event.  Biologists have detected a smaller outbreak in Atlantic waters off Rhode Island and Maine.

Coverage in the Washington Post quotes ACSF Faculty Fellow Drew Harvell (EEB) on the importance of the epidemic:

These kinds of events are sentinels of change. When you get an event like this, I think everybody will say it’s an extreme event, and it’s pretty important to figure out what’s going on.

The illness was detected last summer, when a recreational diver reported the devastation. So far, scientists have more questions than answers. The cause of the wasting illness and how it can be stopped are still unknown.

Read more in the Washington Post.