Monday , March 1 2021

Once Populous Starfish Fading Due to Warm Water and Disease – Grand Forks Gazette



Hot water and infectious diseases were determined as the cause of death of a sunflower starfish along the Pacific coast, according to a new study.

Sunflower starfish are among the largest starfish in the world and come in a variety of bright colors including purple and orange. Some of them are more than a meter long and are so fast that they "literally cross the seascape," said Joseph Gaydos, the senior author of the study.

"But when that disease happens, it's like a zombie apocalypse," said Gaydo, of the SeaDoc Society, University of California, Davis.

"He may have 24 arms and suddenly he is walking and his arms are falling. And then, suddenly, the whole body seems to melt.

So what used to be a "big, beautiful starfish," and weighed about five pounds, resembles a pile of calcified parts in a few days, he said.

"It's a really ugly and fast disease for these sunflower starfish."

By 2013, scientists began to realize that species populations were shrinking between 80 and 100 percent in shallow and shallow waters of Alaska and the British Columbia Region. to California. Population information was collected by divers and deep-sea nets.

Sunflower starfish are found in waters from hundreds of meters to just three meters.

Diego Montecino-Latorre, a co-author of the study, and also of the University of California, Davis, said that scientists have discovered an association between rising water temperature and watching fewer stars.

Gaydos said the water temperature rises are not the same in all areas.

The oceans "are not like a bathtub" with consistent temperatures, he said, adding that some locations in California had increased by about 4 ° C, while locations in Washington saw an increase of 2.5 ° C.

One of the theories presented by scientists is that an increase in temperature makes sea stars more susceptible to the disease that was already present, especially since the starfish do not have complex immune systems, he said.

Gaydos said death is an alert.

"It's hard to keep an eye on what's happening in the ocean, but we need to pay attention because it happened in a very short period of time," he said. "So that an entire species almost disappears, that's not good."

Hina Alam, the Canadian Press

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