Saturday, 10 May 2014

Mystery Starfish Plague Extends to Canada and Mexico, but the Answer is Within Our Grasp

By Pete Raimondi, University of California, Santa Cruz | May 09, 2014 01:04am ET

This article was originally published at The Conversation.The publication contributed the article to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

Starfish along much of the North American Pacific coast are dying in great numbers from a mysterious starfish wasting syndrome. As yet the cause of the syndrome is unidentified, and it’s not clear whether it’s a due to an environmental change, disease or or something else.

The early signs vary by species affected and include a deflated appearance, unnatural twisting of the body, and small lesions on the surface that increase in size and number. The wasting often progresses rapidly, leading to the softening of the starfish’s hard body, loss of arms, and eventually complete disintegration and death, sometimes over a period as short as few days. Similar die-offs have occurred before in the 1970s and the 1990s, but never before at this magnitude and over such a wide geographic area.

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