KPCC (Southern California), Apr. 3, 2014: A mysterious disease that has been killing massive numbers of sea stars along the West Coast is now firmly entrenched in Southern California [...] causing some species to disintegrate and liquify into bacterial goop [...] in populations stretching up into Alaska. [...] Jayson Smith, a marine conservation ecologist at Cal Poly Pomona [...] found 11 sea stars, four of which were exhibiting signs of infection [...] the low numbers were actually a welcome sight. “[...] it is positive sign that there are some here, because that’s more than I’ve seen in other places,” [...] Smith and his crew found no sea stars at Shaws Cove, a spot where they had previously counted about 400. As bleak as the widespread die-offs have been, some researchers are excited by the research opportunity [...]
- Pete Raimondi, UC Santa Cruz, leading research effort: “Other than perhaps some of the islands, where it hasn’t ravaged yet, it’s pretty clearly throughout So. Calif. [...] in uncharted waters in lots of ways. [...] a disease the likes of which we haven’t seen before, meaning the spatial extent and the movement from north to south.
- Ian Hewson, Cornell University: “They’d been in captivity for 30 years, and they died in the space of about 24 hours. [...] very difficult to say when we’ll have a definitive answer.”
Coast Weekend, Apr. 4, 2014: Sea stars along much of the Pacific coast of North America are experiencing mass mortality [...] a mortality event of this magnitude, with such broad geographic reach, has never before been documented.
The Coast News, Apr. 3, 2014 (emphasis added): [It's] decimated populations up north, and it recently hit San Diego [...] Sea stars along the West Coast are dying en masse. [...] “San Diego is just now starting to get hit; the Channel Islands are just now getting hit as well,” said Pete Raimondi [...] he expects the disease to keep marching south. [It's] occurred several times [before, but] associated with El Nino causing warm waters [...] Yet we’re currently not in an El Nino. Plus, during past events, the disease moved up the coast with nearshore currents. “That’s very difficult for us to get our heads around, because it’s not a classic movement pattern,” Raimondi said. [...] Raimondi said it’s likely something is making the sea stars susceptible to secondary infection from a pathogen or virus. [...] Fukushima radiation is extremely unlikely; radiation hasn’t registered above ambient levels.
KPCC Transcript, Apr. 3, 2014:
- 0:45 in — –Jayson Smith of Cal Poly: “We’ve gone from hundreds to zeroes really quickly [...] We actually thought we were going to escape it [...] we got hit really hit and we lost probably 95% of our sea stars.”
- 1:45 in — It could be bacterial, viral, environmental, or some combination.
- 2:00 in — History is no help [...] [a] die off was tied to warmer waters of an El Nino [...] there’s been no El Nino for years.
- 2:15 in: “It’s amazing [...] a geographic scope that is unprecedented.” –Pete Raimondi, UC Santa Cruz […]
- 2:30 in — A rare chance to see what happens when an ecosystem loses it’s main predator.
Published: April 5th, 2014 at 2:21 pm ET