Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber (Washington), July 30, 2014: “I would say the disease hasn’t been abating. It looks to me like it’s raging,” [Rayna Holtz] said last week. [...] Other islanders have reported steep declines in the sea star populations [...] with an especially bad die-off in June. In May, a group of students [...] counted about 800 sea stars [...] in mid-June [...] 60 to 80 percent of the sea stars were gone [...] many of the ones that were left were visibly sick and “at death’s door.” The early summer die-off was also seen at other beaches around Puget Sound [...] “The students were surprised, dismayed and somewhat astounded by the fact that these starfish were disintegrating almost before their eyes” [...] Holtz observed the same thing across the harbor in Dockton. [...] she counted just one juvenile sea star and no adult stars. “I couldn’t believe my eyes [...] The areas that had not been touched in February have succumbed now.” [...] Karlista Rickerson, an avid scuba diver [...] estimates she’s seen about 80 percent of the sea stars disappear [underwater]. Some from the scuba community have been asked to count sea stars as deep as 120 feet [...] “There aren’t any to count anymore,” she said last week.
Homer Tribune, Aug. 5, 2014: Scientists alarmed by new mystery disease [...] A scientist visiting Alaska, Karyn Traphagen, said [...] “I came in May and September 2013 [...] I saw signs of it then, but it was much more pronounced when I returned last month [...] I then went back to my 2013 photos and found some evidence of the disease as early as May 2013.” [...] On its website, [UC Santa Cruz says] It’s not the Fukushima radiation: “[...] that wouldn’t have arrived here yet. Also, just the distribution of the disease and apparent lack of the disease in other areas, really doesn’t lend itself to (a Fukushima link).” [...] Researchers are leaning toward the theory that “it may be a pathogen of some sort that is distributed through ocean currents”
Whidbey News-Times (Washington), Jul 31, 2014: Volunteer for the Island County Beach Watchers organization since 1993, [Charlie] Seablom has started to see alarming changes in his favorite sea creature. [...] “Scientists are really stumped [...] limbs have been known to fall off and crawl away on their own,” [Beach Watchers' Barbara Bennett] said. “It’s kind of an alien thing.”
Whidbey News-Times, Jul 27, 2014: Bennett opined [it] could be happening because other things are off balance, such as [...] chemistry of the ocean. It may also be the result of pollution [...]
High Country News, July 4, 2014: I first wrote about Pacific sea stars falling victim to a mysterious disease last fall [...] It’s gotten much, much worse. [...] what’s behind this intertidal horror show [...] no one really knows. [...] an epidemic that could wreak havoc on entire ecosystems from Mexico to Alaska, and we can’t pin down the cause. [...] The lack of concrete information also provides fertile ground for conspiracy theorists, particularly those who like to blame all mysterious ocean problems on Fukushima radiation-an idea roundly dismissed by scientists.
‘Conspiracy theories’ roundly dismissed by scientists?
- “‘What about Fukushima…?’ We haven’t ruled that out” -Pete Raimondi, UC Santa Cruz
- “Researchers say nuclear pollution… could be partially to blame for a disease wiping out starfish… Raimondi also says scientists can’t rule out nuclear pollution”-1130 AM
- “We’ve had a lot of questions about whether it is related to radiation from Fukushima, we can’t completely exclude that possibility” -Ian Hewson, Cornell University
- “There is speculation that the die-off could be due to… Fukushima. [Biologist Paula Romagosa] said that doesn’t sound likely because the first place it was seen was in a remote area of Indian Arm* [near Vancouver] and not the west coast” -Times Colonist
Published: August 6th, 2014 at 1:12 am ET