Thursday, September 5, 2013

This just in.... Sea stars dying?

It's not often that anything seems like I should post it with any speed, snails don't move that quickly after all, but this does seem to be a story in progress, and relevant to the marine life of the PNW:

Divers in B.C. and off the WA coast have noticed massive die-offs of subtidal sea stars recently.  

Figure 1. I didn't want to shock anyone with pictures of dying sea stars, so this is just a wikimedia photo of a Pycnopoida, one of the species in the die-off.

Here is a link to a post on Echinoblog about it.  Warning, graphic pictures of dead and dying sea stars (including zombie arms that keep walking even with no other part of the animal left! Need future post on autotomy in echinoderms!).

Lots of speculation about possible causes:
  • Low dissolved oxygen?
  • Major freshwater input = salinty stress (it has been pouring in Seattle every night for a week)?
  • Wasting disease?
  • Poachers slicing and dicing or bleaching?
  • Combination thereof?

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