Contributed photo/Joe Gaydos, SeaDoc Sunflower sea stars have been almost wiped out in the Salish Sea by a wasting disease.

SeaDoc Society presents free lecture on sea star wasting disease

  • Mon Nov 6th, 2017 7:00am
  • Life

Submitted by the SeaDoc Society

Since 2013, a devastating outbreak of sea star wasting disease has killed millions of sea stars from Mexico to Alaska. The ongoing epidemic is so huge that many consider it to be the largest disease outbreak ever documented in marine wildlife. Infected animals develop lesions that eat away tissue, with limbs dropping off as the animals die. The disease has been linked to a specific virus called sea star-associated Densovirus, although environmental factors may also be involved. For example, studies have shown that elevated temperatures make the disease worse.

On Tuesday, Nov. 14 Dr. Joe Gaydos, SeaDoc Science Director will discuss the outbreak and what scientists have learned about its effect on multiple different sea star species. For example, an analysis of data collected by scientists and by recreational scuba divers in the Salish Sea showed severe impacts on some species, such as the sunflower sea star, Pycnopodia helianthoides, while populations of other species have actually increased.

The 2017-18 Marine Science Lecture Series is designed to inspire the general public and to highlight the amazing fish and wildlife of our region. Lectures are free.

The lecture series is presented by The SeaDoc Society and YMCA Camp Orkila. It has been made possible through generous sponsorship by The Averna Family, Barbara Bentley, Barbara Brown, Emmanuel Episcopal, Audrey and Dean Stupke, Orcas Island Community Foundation and West Sound Marina.