San Francisco Chronicle, Dec. 9, 2013: A mysterious pathogen is wiping out starfish along the Pacific coast, a potential catastrophe that has flummoxed marine biologists [...] [They're] disappearing from large areas along the coast [...] Nobody knows what is causing the die-off, but the killer – most likely some kind of virus, bacteria or pollutant – is widespread and extremely virulent. It has ravaged a variety of starfish species in tide pools and in deeper water along the coast from Mexico to Alaska. [...] The disease has spread from the shoreline into deeper water [...] The disease has even found its way through the filtration system of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which uses sea water in its tanks [and] cannot keep out natural impurities. “There is something going on in the water,” [Michael Murray, the director of veterinary services] said.
UC Santa Cruz professor Pete Raimondi, marine biologist and lead researcher: “Where it has hit, it has been pretty lethal [...] This is going on up and down the coast. … It’s going to change what’s out there pretty fundamentally. [...] It’s dying in huge numbers [...] We’ve seen them go from a lot to zero fast. [...] The ones that get it first are all predators [...] It just started, so we don’t know yet what it is going to do [...] The theory is that there is going to be a fundamental shift [in the balance of sea life] [...] Usually it is pretty obvious what is causing it. None of those factors exist [...] I don’t think it’s the end. We see it in more and more sites.”
According to the Chronicle, a possible culprit is radiation from the Fukushima disaster
[M]arine biologists who are joining forces to find the culprit [...] they are looking for marine biotoxins and viruses and exploring a variety of possible sources, including radiation from the debris that washed across the Pacific Ocean after the Fukushima disaster. “We’re not throwing anything out yet,” Raimondi said.
A report from Seattle’s KING5 News earlier this month claimed government tests ruled out any connection to radiation: TV: Sea star die-off worse than thought; Now over entire West Coast; Going from one species to others -- Gov't tests 'rule out' Fukushima -- Coincidence they're all melting at once, or something fishy is going on in these waters (VIDEO)
Published: December 9th, 2013 at 12:46 pm ET
- Experts: Disease explosion in West Coast sea stars — “Extinction event” is pretty close — “Epidemic of historic magnitude… threatens to decimate entire population” of species in Oregon — Sudden 50-fold increase in recent weeks — Entire ecosystem could be disrupted — “We have no clue” (VIDEO) June 11, 2014
- ABC: ‘Mysterious surge’ in sick marine mammals all along California coast — Infested with parasites, extremely emaciated; “Very seriously ill… in very bad shape” — Experts: “We’re extremely concerned right now” — Deaths up 1,500% at rescue facility — ‘Number mystifies officials’ (VIDEOS) January 13, 2015
- EPA: Models show “greater potential impact” to US West Coast from rainfall containing Fukushima radioactive material — California sea water with over 10 Million pCi/m3 of iodine-131 found in sample squeezed out of seaweed September 9, 2014
- TV:: ‘Zombie’ starfish found along Pacific coast — Experts: “Much spookier than in past” — Babies “die so quickly… they just disappear” — Change in seawater could have activated deadly pathogen — Worries about creation of ‘superbug’ — Serious ecosystem changes now appearing (VIDEO) September 2, 2014
- Gov’t: “This is unprecedented in extent and magnitude”… toxic bloom may stretch from Calif. to Alaska — Largest event ever recorded? — Official: “It’s new territory… we’ve never had to close essentially half our coast” — Fish washing up “extremely poisonous” — “Serious concern for coastal communities” June 16, 2015