Massive ecological disaster as keystone starfish species gruesomely die along West Coast
Starfish are dying at an unprecedented rate.
Starfish are dying along the west coast, from Canada to Southern California, and scientists are struggling to find out why, and if anything can be done to stabilize their collapsing population. Warmer ocean temperatures may be to blame as a bacterial wasting disease spreads.
A victim of Starfish Wasting Syndrome. Normally, the starfish is a bright orange color. In this image, the disease is spreading, killing the creature.
The disease is known as Starfish Wasting Syndrome or wasting disease.
Victims first develop white patches on their skin, and then within a few days their limbs begin to detatch. Finally, they turn into "white goo" as some researchers have described it.
The culprit appears to be a bacteria that flourishes in warmer water. In Southern California, the putrefying bacteria last flourished in 1983-84 during an El Nino, a period of temporary ocean warming that occurs intermittently in the Pacific.
An El Nino has been predicted by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography for late 2013, however the experimental nature of their study and the early timing of the outbreak make blaming warming a premature conclusion.
More likely, the bacteria could be flourishing because the oceans are absorbing more heat, or perhaps because a strain of the bacteria has evolved to flourish in cooler waters.
In fact, some early measurements have shown cooler-than-expected ocean temperatures, which suggests the bacteria may have simply evolved.
Scientists have gone into high alert mode and are working the coasts to determine what is behind the outbreak. Until they report, conclusions with regard to cause are speculative at best.
The disease notably affects the Pisaster starfish, a bright orange to purple species that west coast beachgoers are accustomed to seeing in tide pools. The starfish are favorites with beachcombers who may hold them for a few minutes before returning them to the pools from whence they came.
They are also favorites with biologists who have proclaimed them a keystone species.
If important populations of this starfish collapse, it could lead to an ecological imbalance that will disrupt coastal ecosystems for long periods to come. The starfish enjoy feeding on mussels, which may now grow out of control without natural predators to keep them in check.
A birth foretold: click here to learn more!
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Green News
- Fearsome beast once stalked Europe: New dinosaur identified
- Resident Evil: Extinction. 30,000-year-old giant virus revived from frozen Siberian tundra
- The world's getting hotter - in spite of reductions in global warming
- BAD PARENTING: Ants use their newborns as rafts in flood situations
- Powered by Google. Online monitoring system tracks global deforestation
- TOLD YOU SO: Human behavior now causing greatest mass extinction ever, and it's finally hitting you in the wallet
- Cereal giant Kellogg pledges only to use ethically supplied palm oil
- World's largest solar farm in Mojave Desert frying birds which flies over
- Source of Amazon River may be 57 miles longer than previously believed
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?