SF Chronicle: Fukushima radiation possible culprit in huge starfish die off from Mexico to Alaska — Potential catastrophe, it’s extremely virulent “going on up and down coast… It’s going to change what’s out there pretty fundamentally”
December 9th, 2013
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.