Tragic news from the Pacific North West: Mysterious sea star disease killing tens of thousands of starfish recorded in Oregon. Starfish are “tearing themselves apart” - literally the arms of the starfish crawl away from the body until they tear off, leaving behind a core that’s turned inside out. Some starfish “melt” into blobs, with no apparent explanation. It’s gory and it seems countless millions of these animals are dying up and down the entire Pacific coast of North America - reported from southern California to Alaska.
Cause is unknown, but suspects include bacteria, invasive species, or warming oceans and acidification from climate change.
The mysterious disease that has caused widespread sea star die-offs in Puget Sound is now killing dozens of sea stars off the Oregon Coast.
Divers with the Oregon Coast Aquarium made the discovery during a survey on April 27 that revealed 48 dead and dying sea stars in a 60-square-meter area in Yaquina Bay on Oregon’s central coast. The symptoms of wasting syndrome were seen in sunflower stars, ochre stars and giant pink stars.
Sea stars infected with the disease physically deteriorate before they die. In some cases, afflicted arms break off from the sea star’s body and walk away before dissolving completely. Scientists suspect a bacteria or virus is causing it, but they don’t know for sure. Until April, there had only been a few cases reported in Oregon.