- Monday, 22 September 2014 14:55
By Megan Scudellari – Newsweek – September 20, 2014
A grisly horror show is playing out along the West Coast of North America. Remains of millions of dead and dying sea stars, commonly known as starfish, litter the shoreline from Vancouver to San Diego. Those stars are the victims of a swift and brutal illness. First, the animal’s body deflates, as if drained of all its water. Then the trademark arms begin to curl, detaching from rocks. White lesions appear, like festering canker sores. Then the star explodes as organs rupture though the body wall. The arms fall off. Ultimately, the sea star dissolves, as if melted by acid, disintegrating into goo. Researchers in Washington state first noticed signs of the so-called “wasting syndrome” in June 2013 during routine monitoring of populations of bright purple and orange Pisaster ochraceus sea stars. The outbreak continued through the summer, spreading down into California’s central and southern coasts. Scientists hoped it would subside during the winter. It did not. For full story, click here.