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

Published: November 2nd, 2013 at 10:39 pm ET


Title: West Coast sea stars mysteriously dying off
Source: KING 5 News Seattle
Date: Oct. 31, 2013

Transcript Excerpts

Jean Enersen, King 5 News: The Mysterious die off of West Coast sea stars is spreading.

Dennis Bounds, King 5 News: The so-called melting sea stars were first noticed in Vancouver, then in Seattle, and now in California. King 5 environmental specialist Gary Chittim has more on the rapidly spreading disease, and why scientists are so concerned. And a warning, the video of the sea stars might be disturbing. […]

Heidi Ebel, Seattle Aquarium: There is a huge unknown as to why there is currently a die off happening […]

Gary Chittim, KING 5 News: They’re in quarantine […] At least 3 of the aquarium’s captive sea stars were melting. […] And the scene out there is worse. Aquarium divers found a much more serious situation in the wild population along the Seattle waterfront. […] The estimates of infected sea stars has grown from 30% to 50%-60% in just a few days. And now biologists in California are finding it too.

Dr. Lesanna Lahner, Seattle Aquarium: Something is causing sea stars to be diseased along the coast at different locations. […]

Chittim: Is it a natural disease, is it triggered by environmental factors? […]

KOMO News, Nov. 1, 2013: “We’ve been hearing reports that jellyfish numbers are higher than normal in the Puget Sound [near Seattle],” [Bob Pacunski, a marine fish biologist with Fish and Wildlife] said. “I got a sense of that this year when I was out doing some personal fishing. It’s one of those boom or bust things.”

Watch the KING 5 broadcast here

Published: November 2nd, 2013 at 10:39 pm ET


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18 comments to 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

  • OldFool

    Normally, starfish eat shellfish like clams and mussels, etc…When the population of starfish goes up, the population of mussels goes down. If the population of starfish goes down, the population of mussels should go up. If the population of mussels does not go up this time, then that would really be very concerning. Some bacteria of the Vibrio genus apparently do attack starfish, and Vibrio thrives best in the warmer water of summer and early fall. So Now would perhaps be a good time for a bacterial attack, IF that indeed is what is causing the problem. And if starfish were truly?? showing the same symptoms in 2010 on the East Coast, that would imply something besides Fukushima, such as bacteria/virus or the widely seen increasing ocean acidification from carbonic acid increase due to oceans dissolving more carbon dioxide. But its a little too soon – the acidification is gradual and it was not expected to really hit them for some decades yet.
    And there are many other types of animals being affected on the Pacific coast since 2011, and their symptoms are different. They are still more likely to be the victims of something different (like immune system damage from radiation fallout) than what is attacking the starfish. Perhaps the starfish problem is almost unrelated to the many other types of diseased animals – a chance coincidence in time.


      @OldFool – Great information, thanks for sharing.

    • obewanspeaks obewanspeaks

      Would that not be a simple test to determine the cause being either bacteria or a virus as the culprit?

      Why would there be doubt at this point?

      • many moons

        Exactly! Why all the doubt, speculation, worry, unknown causes, hard to detect, could be related to,….and then there is never any follow up studies or information…..just new doubts about…concern that, mysterious, perhaps it could be…

        It couldn't be that hard to do some diagnostic tests and quickly get to the bottom of the causes….we've been hearing about mysterious melting star fish for months.

        • UnclearOptions MaryM

          Just because it is/could be due to virus and/or bacteria doesn't mean it couldn't be caused by radiation. It seems if people were trying to obfuscate, they would go ahead and say the diseases but omit radiation as a contributing factor to weakness of the organism.

    • Methane Gas Levels Rising Catastrophically Fast, Abrupt Climate Change Now Initiating; via @AGreenRoad

  • natano natano

    Here's another warning from a guy with some credibility. An inside look at how the Japanese corporate world works and why it is that Tepco is making so little progress at the important stuff.

  • OldFool

    Just don't have enough solid information to really make any good deductions. I am wondering if the 2010 date given by one the reports 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?

  • OldFool

    The reports that allege that the Pacific jellyfish populations are healthy do not really indicate a lack of radiation contamination. The invertebrates have only simpler innate immune systems, and they don't have the vertebrate's extremely sophisticated, very radiation vulnerable, adaptive immune system, at least according to the text books.

    • 16Penny 16Penny

      Not according to this: " In his experiment, he investigated whether antioxidants can be used to combat Nuclear Radiation. Starfish (Protoreastor nodosus) were used as their immune systems are very similar to a human’s and contain a large portion of the human genome"

      Maybe you could find out how to view his paper.

      Interesting contradiction.

      • OldFool

        Well, a jellyfish (a definite invertebrate with no bones and no bone marrow to source B cells and T cells) is supposed to only have an innate immune system and a starfish (which has a calcium based skeleton but not a spine) as a nominal invertebrate should also only have an innate immune system, according to the immunology text books. Humans have both an innate immune system and an adaptive immune system. To say that the immune system of a starfish is similar to a human can be truthful, if this only refers to the innate immune system component of a human. Otherwise, it is too sweeping a statement.

        • 16Penny 16Penny

          OldFool, I was thinking about the two types of immune systems and it occurred to me that perhaps the adaptive immune system is not as relevant when considering the damage from radiation, as it is better suited to combating biological threats which are new to the body which the immune system protects.

          Your thoughts?

        • 16Penny 16Penny

          Old fool, I found this abstract that supports my gut instinct (more of a Scientific Wild Ass Guess) that the adaptive immune system is not as important when we are considering the damage caused to organisms by radiation.

          "The body senses “danger” from “damaged self” molecules through members of the same receptor superfamily it uses for microbial “non-self”, triggering canonical signaling pathways that lead to the generation of acute inflammatory responses. For this reason, the biology of normal tissue responses to moderate and clinically relevant doses of radiation is inextricably connected to innate immunity."

          So in respects to this conversation, Starfish immune systems ARE similar to human immune systems when considering the effects of radiation. You can quote me.

  • OldFool

    The "Immunity and the Invertebrates" article by Gregory Beck et al. in the Nov. 1996 issue of Scientific American is probably the source of the starfish immune system confusion by some people. It talks about Metchnikoff, a Russian zoologist and creator of cellular immunology, sticking a rose thorn into a starfish larva, and seeing phagocytosis (probably by macrophages of their innate immune system) and noting the similarity to phagocytosis of bacteria or fungi by human cells. The article talks about some immune system similarities between vertebrates and invertebrates, including use of some protein messengers called cytokines, widely used by immune systems. This article is pretty easy to read, and worth reading, but it needs to be read carefully to avoid getting the false impression of an adaptive immune system existing in invertebrates.

  • w

    @oldFool, first thanks for your interesting info, but I don't believe you're going to find any starfish with the same kind of dying problem in any of the 2010 reports. I think the pro-NUKE writers have become very sophisticated.I noticed that they have started adding a pre-3/11 date event to a number of negative health reports that are apparently related to radiation of 3/11. This trick is to confuse the readers to think that if the disease have happened before the Fukushima incident, therefore it must have nothing to do with (the trillions tons of leaked) radiation.

  • w

    As soon as I read about the 2010 dying of starfish in the East Coast, I knew that no one's going to find that article…