Sunday , March 7 2021

Magic of the hottest ocean Doom for Starfish: study



(Newser)

"This thing was as common as a robin," says Cornell's Drew Harvell. Atlantic starfish sunflower. No longer. The creature that once thrived on the West Coast was decimated along with other species of starfish by a disease that came with a vengeance around 2013. Scientists discovered that a virus was the culprit, and a new study in Advances in science helps explain how this has become so lethal. The main villain: warming the ocean waters. Harvell and his team found a correlation between unusually hot ocean temperatures at that time and the dive in the number of starfish, reports the report. New York Times. Think of it as a "one-two punch", explains SmithsonianThe warmer water served as a kind of trigger for the deadly pathogen to emerge and flourish.

"This is shocking," says marine ecologist Mark Carr of UC Santa Cruz, who did not participate in the study. Science. "This is not just a population reduction, it's virtually the loss of a key species over thousands of miles. We've never seen anything like this before." Scientists have focused on the sunflower starfish because it is so well-known – capable of growing up to 3 feet in diameter – and is a vital cog in the oceanic ecosystem. For example, it feeds on sea urchins, which are now destroying seaweed forests on the coast, reports To discover. One more positive point about the study: Harvell says the impetus came from a $ 400 donation she received from Arkansas students who read about the problem of the starfish. She combined the amount with her own money, then got more funds for the initial job. (Scientists are seeing signs of a comeback as well.)


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