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Sea Star Wasting Disease Discovered in Alaska. Sea star wasting disease, thought to be caused by a virus, is killing sea stars along much of the North American Pacific coast. Similar die-offs occurred in the region in the past, but not at this magnitude, nor in Alaska. Within just three years, millions of sea stars from California to Alaska died from a disease called sea star wasting syndrome (SSWS). In 2013, sea stars impacted by a wasting syndrome began dissolving into gelatinous goop. Sea Star Wasting Disease Importance Sea stars play a vital ecological role as top level predators shaping nearshore ecosystems. While I was in Kachemak Bay, Alaska, this summer I observed what I had hoped I would not find: evidence of sea star wasting syndrome. From Mexico up to Alaska, sea stars were struck down by “sea star wasting disease,” and no one had any idea why it was happening. Some of these species stand … Published on: 05/26/2015. Menu. 2014) b egan in 2013, affecting sea stars from Alaska to Baja California, Mexico. It then rapidly began to lay waste to many as 20 different sea star species from Mexico to Alaska, said Gehman, a researcher with the University of British Columbia and the Hakai Institute. The study titled “Evidence That Microorganisms at the Animal-Water Interface Drive Sea Star Wasting Disease,” was published in the Frontiers in Microbiology journal on January 6 th, 2021. The reason for the die-off is a mysterious illness known as Sea Star Wasting Disease (SSWD). A mysterious wasting disease has been devastating sea star populations around the world for several years. I took photos of sea stars at Tutka Bay during an ultra low tide in May 2013 and again in September 2013. Surveys were conducted in Prince William Sound, Kenai Fjords National Park, Kachemak Bay, and Katmai National Park and Preserve. A disease referred to as sea star wasting syndrome started to spread like wildfire along the west coast of North America in 2013 and has turned 20 sea star species to goo since. The decline was so precipitous that sunflower stars have now been … UAF researchers say this is the first discovery of multiple sickened stars this far north. Sea Star Wasting in Tutka Bay, Alaska. About the Project; People ; Funding; Links and Publications; Unalaska Day 1. Sea star die-offs have been observed in past decades, but none were at this geographic scale. Alaska (Figure 3) finding no evidence of sea star wasting disease. Healthy, multi-armed sunflower sea stars are renowned predators, but this Howe Sound specimen appears to be dying from sea star wasting disease. Biologists estimated 95% of some sea star populations were decimated by SSWS. The research, “Evidence That Microorganisms at the Animal-Water Interface Drive Sea Star Wasting Disease,” was published Jan. 6 in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology. We assessed the impacts of sea star wasting disease in the Salish Sea, a Canadian / United States transboundary marine ecosystem, and world-wide hotspot for temperate asteroid species diversity with a high degree of … Then came the sea star epidemic. Since 2013, sea stars have been dying in record numbers on the west coast, from Baja California to Alaska. Sea stars with SSWS develop white lesions in the ectoderm quickly followed by decay of tissue surrounding the lesions which leads to fragmentation of the body and death. The absence of sea stars can enable other organisms that sea stars eat, like mussels, to multiply and drive out other nearshore inhabitants. Historically located along the coast from Baja California north to Alaska, the sunflower sea star has been decimated by sea star wasting disease (SSWD), which research suggests is … None of the sea stars counted or observed in these locations showed signs of wasting disease. For more than seven years, a mysterious wasting disease has nearly killed off sea star populations around the world. After a looong prop plane ride Elliot and Ian arrived in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, where the team had previously performed work in April 2015. A recent paper suggests that warmer water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean could have increased the spread of the disease and the high rates of sea star death in Washington State (Eisenlord et al. As some sea star populations make a comeback, scientists may have found cause of ‘wasting disease’ By. and Washington coasts. Sea star wasting disease devastated intertidal sea star populations from Mexico to Alaska between 2013–15, but little detail is known about its impacts to subtidal species. Photo by Greg Davis/KCTS9 Photo by Greg Davis/KCTS9 The research, “Evidence That Microorganisms at the Animal-Water Interface Drive Sea Star Wasting Disease,” was published in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology. Now scientists believe that it may be respiratory distress. Hewson feels that ocean conditions result in the production of exceptional amounts of organic material, which prompts bacteria to thrive. Populations of the sunflower sea star suffered dramatic crashes because of a marine wildlife epidemic event, referred to as sea star wasting syndrome, that began in 2013. Over the next two years, as geographically diverse populations continued to crash, scientists coined the term sea star wasting disease (SSWD) to refer to the unexplained forces that were causing the devastation. Next week, I will post about sea star wasting syndrome, a devastating disease that has killed millions of sea stars in the last few years from California to Alaska. Some species of sea stars feed on plankton, while other species prefer dead organisms. As many as 20 sea star species have been affected. On the West Coast, sea star wasting has been observed as far north as Southeast Alaska, and as far south as Orange County, California. Signs of sea star wasting disease have been popping up on both the East and West Coasts of the United States, as well as reports globally. According to Hewson, ocean conditions lead to the production of unusual amounts of organic material, which he said prompts bacteria to thrive. Historically located along the coast from Baja California north to Alaska, the sunflower sea star has been decimated by sea star wasting disease (SSWD), which research suggests is exacerbated by warming oceans tied to climate change. Sunflower stars proved to be an especially vulnerable species. Posted on September 13, 2015 by teamaquaticvir. At least 20 species of sea stars from Mexico to Alaska were affected by the disease, but the sunflower star, an aggressive predator with 24 arms, was hit the hardest. According to Hewson, ocean conditions lead to the production of unusual amounts of organic material, which he said prompts bacteria to thrive. The problem surfaced in 2013, when sea star wasting disease (or SSWD) was spotted along the B.C. Since June 2013, Sea Star Wasting Disease cases have been reported from Baja California all the way to southern Alaska. SSWD is currently affecting more than twenty species of sea stars in nine families. Sea stars have few predators and are believed to have a lifespan of only a few years. The research, “Evidence That Microorganisms at the Animal-Water Interface Drive Sea Star Wasting Disease,” was published on January 6, 2021, in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology. Many scientists had thought that Alaskan waters were too cold for the virus, but recent warm ocean temperatures might be a contributing factor. Some of these species stand at the brink of extinction. 2016). In seven years, an estimated 5.75 billion sunflower stars perished from Mexico to Alaska—a population decline of over 90 percent. this week i went out at low tide to look at the sea stars, and sure enough, i saw several that were looking poorly, and one that was really bad, from sea star wasting disease. Back then we’d taken 80 … Primary Contact(s): kris.holderied@noaa.gov. Aaron Bolton, KBBI - Homer - June 5, 2019. (Donna Gibbs/Vancouver Aquarium in … Near Sitka, Alaska, researcher Melissa Miner finds an ochre star with whitened diseased arms — a symptom of sea star wasting disease. The problem surfaced in 2013, when sea star wasting disease sea was spotted along the British Columbia and Washington coasts. An epidemic wasting disease, caused by a virus (Hewson et al. 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