Thursday, December 12, 2013

Is the US West Coast starfish die-off due to radiation?

For a couple months now oceanographers have reported massive die-off's of starfish where the starfish alarmingly melt away into goo in front of you.  Some have taken this as proof that THE RADIATION is here, and causing massive problems.  So let's see what we can find along these lines.

The following articles were turned up with the search phrase "starfish death west coast cause".  Without exception it is described as a disease, though the scientists are still looking for the precise culprit.  They believe it has to do with warmer ocean water.  This sort of disease has struck starfish populations before.  

Disease causes West Coast starfish deaths - An AP news report from November 4, 2013.   Describes it as "a disease that causes the creatures to lose their arms and disintegrate" that goes by the name "sea star wasting disease."  The die-off is massive, 95% in some locations.

Wasting disease devastating starfish along Sonoma Coast - Local news article from November 2, 2013 - Again, it's described as a disease.  It says this disease has struck localized areas in Southern California before, such as in the early 1980's, but never on this scale.  Says that starfish in an aquarium at the San Francisco Presidio had died when seawater from the ocean was pumped into their tank.

Mysterious wasting syndrome is turning West Coast starfish into goo - November 5, 2013 - Again, it's described as a disease, and mentions that there's a similar disease affecting East Coast starfish "where it has been linked to a virus that follows a period of starfish overpopulation" but "the only observed factor for the starfish wasting syndrome has been warmer-than-usual waters (which could conceivably create a breeding ground for dangerous bacteria)." 

Mysterious disease turning starfish to slime - Reuters, November 5, 2013 - Again, calls it a disease.

Falling Stars: Starfish Dying From “Disintegrating” Disease - November 5, 2013 - Again, calls it a disease.  This is a more in-depth report than some others.  It says that in normal starfish populations this disease affects a small number of individuals, but the scale of the current outbreak is unprecedented.  They don't have an identified root cause, and the wasting disease is actually "a whole set of symptoms without a universal cause."  They believe the warmer ocean water is a primary culprit, because starfish are cold-water animals, and because bacteria can multiply more in warmer water. 

Massive Outbreak Killing Pacific Coast Starfish In Droves -  November 5, 2013 - Doesn't say much more than the other reports, calls this a disease.

Massive Starfish Die-Off Baffles Scientists - This is an earlier report than the others, dated in September 2013, meaning it has less details than other reports.  It's interesting because it's closer to a first person report of one scientist on a dive in Alaska.

Video: Sea stars (starfish) die-off seen in West Seattle waters - A blog post from late November 2013, in which an individual diver in Seattle posted some videos of the effects in Puget Sound.  Calls it devastating.

Why Are Sea Stars Dying from New Jersey to Maine? Divers Asked to Report Large Groupings of Starfish - This July 2013 report goes over an outbreak on the East Coast. 
UC Santa Cruz has a page to track the Sea Star Wasting Syndrome -

They describe it as a disease, and have maps and other data available.  Most of the effect is in the southern half of California, however locations of starfish die-off are present as far north as Alaska.

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