Mysterious sea star wasting syndrome spreads to public aquariums in Washington State, killing hundreds of creatures
by: Julie Wilson
Monday, August 18, 2014
Millions of sea stars have vanished from the West Coast over the past year, affecting habitats ranging from Alaska all the way to Mexico, with some deaths even detected off the East Coast.
Perhaps one of the most peculiar facts about the event is that both wild and captive sea stars are succumbing to what researchers refer to as “wasting syndrome,” a condition that causes the sea stars’ limbs to contort unnaturally, form lesions and eventually tear off, leaving the animal fatally deflated.
Dozens of marine biologists from reputable aquariums and other institutions across the United States and parts of Mexico are scrambling for answers, unable to do anything but theorize about what could be causing the massive die-offs.
“We’re trying really hard but it’s a really complicated puzzle to put together because there’s no real foundation (of knowledge about) the sea stars, so it’s hard to tell what’s normal,” said Lesanna Lahner, a staff engineer at the Seattle Aquarium.
Scientists are completely stumped over the massive die-off of star fish