– TV:: ‘Zombie’ starfish found along Pacific coast — Experts: “Much spookier than in past” — Babies “die so quickly… they just disappear” — Change in seawater could have activated deadly pathogen — Worries about creation of ‘superbug’ — Serious ecosystem changes now appearing (VIDEO) (ENENews, Sep 2, 2014):
NBC San Diego, Jun 22, 2014 (emphasis added): Wasting “Zombie” Sea Stars Found in San Diego — A mysterious disease deforming and killing sea stars along the West Coast, causing their limbs to dissolve, has reached the waters off San Diego’s coastline… The impacted creatures have also been referred to as “zombie sea stars.”… “You would see a trail of arms and [think] ‘Oh, this is going to lead me somewhere bad,’ and then you keep following the arms. Sure enough there’s this zombie sea star,” said UCSB research diver Sarah Sampson who is currently working in the North County. “You see the arms crawling away.”.. According UC Santa Cruz researchers, since April the number of cases increased dramatically in areas including Carlsbad, La Jolla, Mission Bay and Point Loma…
Prof. Raimondi, UC Santa Cruz’s Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department Chairman, Aug 11, 2014: “We knew absolutely when the warm water turned off the disease would also turn off and that’s not the case this time. And so this one’s much spookier than in the past.”
Drew Harvell, Cornell University marine epidemiologist, Aug 27, 2014: “I know we had a large recruit [of baby sea stars] in the San Juan (Islands) and a lot of them did not make it [due to the wasting disease]… they don’t show the same signs as the adults because they die so quickly. Once they become infected, they just disappear.”
Lesanna Lahner, Seattle Aquarium staff engineer, Aug 7, 2014: There’s concern that a change in the coastal saltwater could have activated a deadly pathogen or made the sea stars more susceptible to a pathogen… Some aquariums are using an antibiotic to treat sick sea stars, but there’s debate over whether that’s the best solution… “It’s a broad spectrum antibiotic so it’s either killing the primary infection or a secondary infection as a result of the disease… Some are worried that treating the sea stars could create a resistant superbug.”
Alberni Valley News, Aug 7, 2014: Starfish wasting disease has come to Barkley Sound. … the disease could seriously decimate or even wipe out the starfish population in Barkley Sound completely… it could have serious repercussions for the rest of the Barkley Sound ecosystem… “if they don’t keep the sea urchin population in check, that would negatively impact the kelp fields,” said [Peter Mieras of Rendezvous Dive Adventures]. “Kelp fields are important sanctuaries for a lot of fish, so of course there is a domino affect.”… “If you look at Howe Sound, the sea urchins there have been taking over quite aggressively.”
Lahner, Seattle Aquarium, Aug 7, 2014: “We have to suspect that it’s causing pain even though we don’t know”… Because of deaths of such keystone predators, the mussel populations have grown substantially… there could be big changes.
Bruce Menge, professor of marine biology at Oregon State University, Aug 27, 2014: “[Wasting disease] still remains very high, even though the number of animals is fewer” … The lack of sea stars already is starting to change the outlook of the ecosystem.. “We’re already seeing a large increase in barnacles… the prey that do settle on the rocks, survive and grow like crazy.”