There’s something strange going on in the waters off the Pacific Coast—the starfish are dying. The phenomenon was first discovered by divers off the coast of Washington last June, and it’s now being reported that tens of thousands of starfish–from as far south as Mexico all the way up to Alaska–have mysteriously died. Scientists are searching for an explanation, but the only thing clear at this point is that a kill off of this magnitude has never before been seen.
The leading theory is that the starfish are being infected by some type of virus or bacteria. Before dying, they develop lesions and spasms so violent that the arms tear themselves off the body and crawl away. The starfish dies shortly thereafter and then melts. Yes, I said they melt. One scientist described it as melting into a, “Pile of white goo.”
Scientists are scrambling to identify the culprit, and its turned into a fight against the clock. When the disease was first reported off the coast of Seattle, it seemed to affect only one species, but it’s now attacking twelve species, and there are reports that starfish are starting to die on the Atlantic coast. I’ve not seen nor read any reports of starfish kills in the gulf.
Here’s a pretty comprehensive piece on the starfish kill, which scientists have named Sea Star Wasting Disease:
Lone Star Chronicles – Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Fish