PHOTOS: Sea star began “ripping itself into pieces” — Like a horror movie — AP: Deaths from Alaska to S. California — Biologist: Related to an environmental change? “An early warning that we aren’t picking up on?” — Professor: “None of us had ever seen anything like this before”

Published: November 4th, 2013 at 9:05 pm ET
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The Press Democrat (Santa Barbara), Nov. 2, 2013 (Emphasis Added): [...] The affliction, called sea star wasting disease, has killed up to 95 percent of the stars in some tide pool populations ranging from southeast Alaska to Santa Barbara in a manner similar to scenes from a horror movie. “They essentially melt in front of you,” said Pete Raimondi, chairman of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UC Santa Cruz’s Long Marine Lab. [...] The disease has struck localized coastal areas before [...] but is already far more widespread, and its full extent is unknown. “We’ve never seen it at this scale up and down the coast,” Raimondi said. [...]

AP, Nov. 3, 2013: Widespread starfish deaths reported on West Coast [...] Sampling has found the disease in starfish from Alaska to Southern California [...] Raimondi says wasting disease has never been as widespread as researchers are finding now. [...] The disease usually affects one species [...] Steven Morgan, an environmental science professor at the Bodega Marine Laboratory at the University of California, Davis, has found emaciated sea stars on the rocks at Schoolhouse Beach north of Bodega Bay, but was unsure if wasting syndrome was the culprit. Still, Morgan found the starfish deaths a “strange anomaly.” “None of us had ever seen anything like this before,” he said.

UC Santa Cruz, Oct. 24, 2013: To date, we have received reports of at least 10 species of sea stars showing signs of infection. [...] Multiple other sites [...] have shown drastic declines in abundance below the fluctuation typically observed at those sites. [...]

Notes from a California naturalist, Sept. 13, 2013: The last of my Pisaster ochraceus stars waited until today, three whole days after all of its conspecifics had died, to start ripping itself into pieces. [...] What happened in my seawater table over the past few weeks may be just the beginning of something really, really bad.

The Echinoblog, Oct. 14, 2013: [...] Canary in a Coal Mine- Global Warming? I think the thing that always concerns me about this whole thing is whether this whole phenomena-the die offs in British Columbia, the wasting disease observations in California and elsewhere – are all tied to a particular environmental change. [...] What if something is happening and this is an early warning that we aren’t picking up on?  [...] What is perhaps most concerning is how MANY starfish species seem to be affected. [...] The effect on the ecosystem is likely to be significant.

Global Warming?

The Press Democrat, Nov. 2, 2013: Sea temperatures off Bodega Bay have been below average this year and are close to average throughout the northeast Pacific, without an El Niño or La Niña, said John Largier, an oceanographer at the Bodega Marine Lab. Raimondi said his data show the same thing, which “makes this event unusual and perhaps more disturbing.”

See also: TV: "Like they're melting... a lot of melting sea stars out there" says Seattle biologist -- Veterinarian: It's concerning, in under a week roughly 60% of species are sick or dying -- "Same thing happening near Canada and nobody’s sure why" (VIDEO)

Published: November 4th, 2013 at 9:05 pm ET
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67 comments

Related Posts

  1. Seattle TV: “Warning, video of the (melting) sea stars might be disturbing” — Scientists are “so concerned” about rapidly spreading die off on West Coast — Doubled in just a few days — Jellyfish numbers booming November 2, 2013
  2. CBS News: ‘Immense mystery’ as sea stars being wiped out along West Coast, could be gone for generations — Bewildering disease is spreading and “no idea what’s causing it, or how to stop it” — Timelapse shows all legs lost in 7 hours (VIDEOS) November 17, 2013
  3. Reports: Sea stars decimated on West Coast — SoCal ravaged as mystery disease spreads south; Saw hundreds last year, now none… got hit really hard — Mortality event like this never before documented — “Uncharted waters… likes of which we haven’t seen” — Turning to ‘bacterial goop’ (RADIO) April 5, 2014
  4. UC Berkeley Professor: California seeing Fukushima fallout won’t be a surprise — ‘Especially concerned’ after radioactive leaks at plant were admitted — “I’m not terribly confident in information Japan is sharing” January 19, 2014
  5. NBC Nightly News: “Another highly troubling report about what’s going on in the Pacific” — Millions of starfish ‘melt away’ from Alaska to California — Expert: Fukushima radiation ‘not ruled out’ as factor in epidemic — Very, very different than anything seen before (VIDEO) December 1, 2013

67 comments to PHOTOS: Sea star began “ripping itself into pieces” — Like a horror movie — AP: Deaths from Alaska to S. California — Biologist: Related to an environmental change? “An early warning that we aren’t picking up on?” — Professor: “None of us had ever seen anything like this before”

  • Ron

    I'm not religious, and I don't want to get the fundies going, but I do remember a verse from my Bible reading days. Revelation 11:18 "The time came … to destroy those who destroy the earth".


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  • mhocker10

    these scientists need to wake up and smell the Cesium in the morning. The ocean is toast, done, gone… yet these idiots can't figure it out. The Dolphins aren't stupid… they are moving out of the Pacific deep waters. Does no one realize that the unit 3 explosion released about 166 different kinds of radio nuclides into the air and WATER. 3 coriums fissioning out of control, continuous radioactive water releases… and core material that was blown out of the #3 reactor into the Ocean. 50+ years to fully decommission the NPP…. by then, I fear we will all be melting, just like the Sea Stars.


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  • sayonara kitty sayonara kitty

    and yet another article about yet another oceanographer who can't figure out what might possibly be wrong? i don't know whats worse, the fact that these scientists know nothing about the current state of their chosen study, or that we get no satisfaction of knowing for the past almost 3 years.


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  • gottagetoffthegrid

    Id go with acidification of the sea as the stressor.

    The lower pH could be causing a breakdown of connective tissue in the critters.

    Cold water dissolves more carbonic acid than warm.

    What ever it is, something apocalyptic is afoot on the west coast.

    Not a word on the MSM.


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    • ftlt

      Gotta: This has been happening in the Atlantic basin for a couple years already .. It has just reached the West Coast this year on scale

      I'm with you, on it being a general man made pollution driven event being the culprit here … and it is not a response to FUFU's toxic crud – yet…

      The toxic crud we dump into the ocean soup is out of control – much is done on purpose…

      Now, we are pouring radioactive materials from FUFU everyday…

      How much other nuclear waste has been dumped in the ocean in the past is a good question??? Betcha, it is much more than we would like to think it is…


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      • Bones Bones

        When we take Fukushima out-of-context by forgetting the pollution before hand, the overall health of the Pacific Ocean is extremely over-rated. I just think Fukushima is the tipping point for many areas mainly the Pacific, parts of western Asia and Japan, and mostly the western N.A. Continent and parts of Canada and U.S., and the number of weird massive ecosystem destructions like outright deaths of species in areas and weird cancers becoming at least into the mainstream means something bad is brewing or has begun and we just don't know it. So, is Fukushima an ELE event on it's own, maybe not, but it's not helping the ocean; When taken into context, I believe the question becomes much more complicated.


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  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    Steven Morgan, an environmental science professor at the Bodega Marine Laboratory at the University of California

    Pete Raimondi, chairman of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UC Santa Cruz’s Long Marine Lab. [...]

    John Largier, an oceanographer at the Bodega Marine Lab

    Evidently..all clueless.
    Neato..(sarc)


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  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    PS. Morgan and Largier comprise the Environmental Science and Policy Dept.

    http://bml.ucdavis.edu/about/

    Heart want to talk to this guy…

    http://bml.ucdavis.edu/research/faculty/gary-cherr/

    I doubt he'd reply..lol.


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  • OldFool

    Starfish eat mussels and other filter feeders. Mussels filter plankton out water and should pick up any toxins or radionuclides as well. Beside pathogen searches, the truly intelligent thing to do now would be to check out the contents of mussels & other shellfish prey.
    Just don't have enough solid information to really make any good deductions. I am wondering if the 2010 date given by one report was a typographical error. I tried to find a description of the East Coast starfish disease/deaths alleged to have happened in 2010. I could not find any article about it. Can somebody else give this search a try? The critical information needed is – (1) what were the exact symptoms? (2) did they ever find the cause (e.g., Vibrio or other bacteria, virus, etc.)? (3) where exactly did this happen? (4) when did it start and when did it stop? (5) was it only the starfish that were affected?


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  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture

    Recent sea-life deaths point to Fukushima.

    World nuclear community, time to roll up your sleeves and do something constructive for once.

    Fix this nuclear disaster and all living things will be grateful.


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  • MoonlightEmpire MoonlightEmpire

    As a short ode to Kevin Blanch:

    What is the statistical probability of a massive species die-off along 1000 miles of coastline…in the age of instant, global communication technology…and not a single scientist from on-location universities posts a single shred of actual data pertaining to the water composition…in 3 months?


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  • "You will see man-made horrors beyond your comprehension"
    ~Tesla


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    • Bones Bones

      You made a thought cross my mind that never did…What will the next "Worst Accident in Humanity" title go to? SCARY. A space explosion sending huge mile long space station debris to Earth? We ALWAYS experience the best and worst of all technologies. We, as a species, always have the extremes covered for everything in all our societies. Whatever groups self-identify as a group they inevitably have crazies on each extreme side of every single argument and thing or object to be debated over. I swear. lol It's ridiculous.


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    • WindorSolarPlease

      I believe that eyechix. Thank you for that quote.


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  • Mack Mack

    The geographical areas of where this is occurring (from Alaska to Southern California) is a huge clue that it's from radiation from Fukushima.

    As a reminder, look at the plume map:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuUYUJwNmag


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  • OldFool

    Fukushima radionuclides like Cs-137, Sr-90, Am-241, Pu-239 would certainly be good suspects, but it is a little too soon to discount the possibility of the largest Vibrio bacteria outbreak in history. About a year ago, a certain shortsighted person dumped 200000 pounds of iron sulphate into the Pacific off the Canadian coast as an experiment. The warmer water of summer and fall and lots and lots of iron would really encourage explosive bacterial growth, as would all the cubic miles of organic matter washed into the ocean from Japan in 2011.


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    • We Not They Finally

      That's actually a good point. Why wasn't that person prosecuted, or were they?


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      • Bones Bones

        All to "help" with Global Warming. lol How ironic. He's an idiot for dumping that much anything into OUR ocean, but you made a great point that you should research. Very interesting! I also think as they say, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions," I can't tell someone honestly if I know "Global Warming" as is defined is happening, but I do know we have massive problems that must be taken care of immediately and I think instead of using resources for a highly debated topic and use the resources for solving the problems with face now, at this very second every day.


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  • Jebus Jebus

    The wasting disease is one of the seastars crowd checks by nature. Natural stress should be from overcrowding. They were already stressed from decades of pollution. Tsunami chemicals and radionuclides are the weight that is tipping the scales towards extinction.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20066959

    http://iws.org/CISProceedings/6th_CIS_Proceedings/Blanchette_et_al.pdf


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  • wetpwcas1 wetpwcas1

    The MSM will remain silent until it's people in NYC melting. I dont see living in a bunker for a life time. World leaders might like it! They live in a dream world as it is!


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  • "What if something is happening and this is an early warning that we aren’t picking up on?"

    Good lord. Something like a zombie apocalypse, maybe?


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    • DUDe DisasterInterpretationDissorder

      Hi WWJD , i'm thinking about buying the cheapest used van/camionette just to drive around with some attention kicking slogans/images/Enenews reference on the side's ,
      if i get to it that image could be really helpfull..thx
      Because the people REALLY do not get it.. a few weeks ago we had some Belgium celebrities eating seaweed from Japan on television chitchatting how healthy and tasty that food is (it was, long ago).. and they are not really dumb.. just deadly uninformed..and (ab)used in public..


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  • Grampybone Grampybone

    The pacific food and planetary oxygen system has reached lethal dose levels of radiation. 7 Years and counting. This seems like an understatement to me. 4 Years and more pacific ecosystems will entirely collapse. Global food markets will be in chaos. Enjoy.


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  • It's ALMOST comical how they all seem so flabbergasted.

    I guess radiation contamination can be illusive, especially if you don't think about it or TEST for it.

    ;)

    Average Joe: "It's obvious this is Fuku related."
    Scientist: "You can't say that without proof."

    Average Joe: "Okay, where's the testing?"
    Scientist: "We'll get back to you on that." or "There's no need to test because Japan is so far away."

    Don't beLIEve it!


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    • We Not They Finally

      If anyone tested those poor baby sea lions, that was never released either. It's just unlikely that the governmental agencies did NOT do sophisticated testing, since they have the money and means to do it. And THEY don't want to be in the dark –more likely, they want to be clear on what to lie about(?)

      It might be helpful if someone would do FOIA requests of environmental agencies like EPA, FDA and NOOA. Like Hatrick Penry did with the NRC.


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    • Bones Bones

      Not to patronize you, but for those who don't know: They are using plausible deniability to keep themselves from being accused of anything. If they offer no data, there is no evidence to go back and say see this happened and you did x, y,z. No data = no evidence. If we don't look for the problem, we don't know what it is and can't be implicated in anything. No data on Japanese childrens' thyroid cancer rates before and after 3/11? Well, no culpability and they can say, "No cancer found!" You don't think doctors get paid off? It happens daily.


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      • Bones Bones

        Doctors and so-called "Experts" can also be clueless figureheads paid to say whatever they are paid to say. Some people also are scared about keeping their "spot" in the science world, yes it has a heirarchy of nerds lol, and keeping their jobs. Displaying data in proper studies not favorable to these large DONATING companies takes big balls. lol Big business bought academia and uses the force of gov't to keep it's power.


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      • PurpleRain PurpleRain

        That is because they already know most everything about all of this is illegal — as well as immoral.


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  • dharmasyd dharmasyd

    Maybe it's ionizing radiation. Maybe not. the fact is that homo-unsapiens have created a vast array of ELE contributor conditions. these include radiation, climate change, GMOs, pesticides, poisons, poisons, poisons — everywhere. Everywhere we look, no matter, we have contaminated our nest to where it is almost no longer inhabitable. Which ELE will get us first? Does it matter?

    Du must dein leben endern! Rilke & others.


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  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    This is a heads -up to Daily Kos..
    You can't contemplate the sickness and death of the sea life in the Pacific.
    And in the same breathe..say that the seafood is safe.

    IT DOESN"T WORK THAT WAY!

    Is Fukushima Radiation Killing the Sardines?

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/11/05/1253160/-Fukushima-Radiation-Killing-the-Sardines

    Putting the Risk from Fukushima to human seafood consumers in Perspective


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  • many moons

    Signs of the syndrome typically begin with white lesions on the arms of the starfish that spread inward, causing the entire animal to disintegrate in less than a week, according to a report by the Pacific Rocky Intertidal Monitoring Program at the University of California.

    Starfish have suffered from the syndrome on and off for decades but have usually been reported in small numbers, isolated to southern California and linked to a rise in seawater temperatures, which is not the case this time, Raimondi said.

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/nov/05/starfish-wasting-disease-scientists-west-coast

    Maybe the nuclear plume and waste are heating up the ocean water, this wasting syndrome has been around for decades and is associated with higher water temps.


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  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    (cont)..
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/11/04/1253054/-Putting-risk-of-Fukushima-to-human-seafood-consumers-in-perspective#comments)

    I see that the missing sardines..did not make a top story today.
    Why not?
    Sardines are a major part of the food chain..for the dolphin.
    I'd mention gannets as well..but then who cares about ..birds.(sarc..I think)

    I suggest the editors of the Daily Kos ..wrap their minds as to HOW MUCH nuclear material that has/is being released from Fukushima..
    They need to understand that a good majority went into the ocean.and
    GET IT..that Fukushima continues to spew radioactive material..into the air and dump radioactive water.
    More importantly..the CORIUMS are below the reactors..contaminating the groundwater that is also headed to the sea…the CORIUM themselves most likely making contact with the sea.

    Until they understand that..they are acting irresponsibly offering
    opinion.

    Amazing feeding frenzy as sharks, dolphins and gannets gang up on a shoal of sardines

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1085326/Amazing-feeding-frenzy-sharks-dolphins-ganets-gang-shoal-sardines.html#ixzz2jm6wjqO9


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  • ToBeExpected ToBeExpected

    What I find interesting in a way, is that emotionally, this Fukushima issue creeps up on you, emotionally, at least it does me, and leaves what I can only describe as a deep seated feeling of dread and fear if the unknown. We can't see it, we can't feel it, and when you or I perceive that we have been affected, it will be way too late to get anything done, for yourself, or for ourselves, as Kevin Blanch says in his latest.. Least we can do now is get on the nascent iodine… that will help some, I am informed.


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  • paschn

    I was "catching" the morning news for a bit on the lame stream media this morning. the "talking head" began a scripted diatribe on how our "benevolent" gubmint had come to the conclusion puberty beginning in pre-nine year olds was caused by obesity…. yup, and islands will capsize if too many folks live on them, vaccines are safe and depleted uranium is good for you. Not a clue, not a clue. Realize the futility in all of this, kick back, relax and watch the comedy unfold. It's gonna be a really, really big show.


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  • Alpha1

    WOW WE HAVE NEVER???

    I bet they haven't in the past this was related to change in water temp my ass…We have never seen this before, well you have never seen cesium, yttrium, strontium, Uranium, Tritium, Radio Iodine, Curium, Plutonium and much more in the sea either…

    Scientist lets get a grant and study this, go ahead dive into that water hell go surfing drench yourself in invisible death. I wonder of the starfish cases how many scientist are about to melt down soon?

    Albert Einstein: “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.”


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  • mairs mairs

    Have any biologists used made-up seawater instead of water from the ocean, to isolate their starfish populations? I watched a news report of a starfish collection disintegrating and they said the water used was fresh Puget Sound seawater.


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  • bwoodfield bwoodfield

    It seems odd to me that the biologist haven't added the radio-nuclei into their studies. It's a well know fact that radiation poisoning cased a significant reduction in the immune system. Although the main flow of the Fukushima radiation will be hitting in the spring, I'm sure the initial wave has already hit, being spread by other creatures. A fish comes up out of the deep ocean, sick and dying from the radioactive particles it ingested. Dies somewhere off the coast and as it's body decomposes it's contaminated flesh wafts in the currents for the smaller, bottom feeders to eat. Sardines, shell fish, sea stars, etc. We've already seen the sardine population decimated, bleeding from the eyes and skin. They blame it on a bacteria that it naturally found in them, but normally non-lethal. Now the mass die off of sea stars where it would be only small isolated populations being effected like this. Has anyone been checking on the pacific crab populations? How about the other shellfish (muscles, clams, etc)? I bet biologist would see odd die offs there as well being caused by previously "unknown" or normally benign reasons. The radiation is like HIV for the ocean. It's severely damaged the immune system of the creatures living in it allowing or causing the bacteria and viruses to run rampant.


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  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    The Pacific Ocean is showing signs of radioactive contamination.
    The same water that has brought/is bringing the 'wave' of radioactive water..that many now admit is coming..is bringing the garbage to the west coast of the US..
    How can it not me radioactive to some degree?
    Step..back and contemplate the damage the garbage itself is going to do..

    Fukushima debris island the size of Texas floating to the US
    Nov 5 2013

    "The tsunami killed almost 16,000 people in Japan, caused numerous problems at the nuclear plant in Fukushima, and dislodged more than 1.5 million floating objects into the Pacific Ocean. Now, a collection of debris the size of Texas is roughly 1,700 meters off the coast of California."


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  • KDM KDM

    Isn't this like what the sneaky bastards want to do to humans. Certain types of cancers to be renamed as something else (not cancer). All in a effort to lower cancer statistics, how sick is that? Someone help me out with the link to this.


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  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    As if they themselves are not Human..
    They 'cut off their nose to spite their face'.


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  • Sol Man

    No matter which way it is done,
    killing the earth's water is very bad.


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  • Socrates

    There have been starfish die-offs before in the Carribean.

    The issue of radiation is raised but not solved.

    Could it be radiation? Yes. The radiation could bioaccumulate in mollusks which are filter-feeders. Mollusks eat phytoplankton.

    This could lower the resistance of the starfish to opportunistic infection by tying up the immune system with nuclide-induced free radicals.

    The result would be PPP piss-poor protoplasm. Collagen would disintegrate. The star would shed the limb.


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  • pkjn

    Texas-sized toxic 'island' of Japan tsunami waste approaching US
    5 November 2013 Voice of Russia
    A huge chunk of toxic debris from Japan’s 2011 tsunami is inevitably nearing the US West coast. Currently 1,700 miles away, between Hawaii and California, the “isle of junk” is worth million tons, while another million is still wandering in the Pacific.
    Some of the debris may have already crossed the Pacific, as reports claim Japanese fishing vessels to have been washed up to Canadian shores as early as winter of 2011. In this case, the level of toxic junk already on the US beaches is probably high.
    http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2013_11_05/Texas-sized-toxic-island-of-Japan-tsunami-waste-approaching-US-2200/


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