Massive Starfish Die Off Bodes Ill For Marine Life

Sea Star Wasting Disease Is Baffling Scientists, But It Isn’t Baffling Us

Sea Star Wasting Disease
Starfish melt away

Last week we reported on the changes in ocean chemistry brought on by ever increasing levels of CO2 absorbed from the atmosphere. The problem here is that the basic chemistry of the ocean is becoming more acid or “sour”, which is beginning to affect that marine life that lives in the bodies of water we use as a sewer. Oyster larvae can’t form their shells and softshell crab shells are getting even softer.Now the National Geographic is reporting the onset of a new marine affliction that is wiping out large chunks of starfish populations from Alaska to Southern California. It’s not just that massive populations of starfish are dying that is so disturbing, it’s the creepy way they die. Basically, the body of the crustacean kind of melts away and turns into goo. The body of the fish simply deteriorates. as described by the University of California at Santa Cruz: “Typically, lesions appear in the ectoderm followed by decay of tissue surrounding the lesions, which leads to eventual fragmentation of the body and death.”

Because starfish are bottom dwellers, this plague has been largely invisible to observers and marine biologists are just beginning to understand the scale of the problem. The disease has appeared before, but never in epidemic proportions. The cause at this point is up for grabs, with some marine scientists looking for a virus and more extreme conspirasphere types blaming it on Fukushima radiation that has been drifting across the ocean. One fact that would seem to confirm an environmental factor is an incident in the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary in September 2013. The starfish in the visitor aquarium were fine until Pacific Ocean water was pumped in. They they all died.

Starfish join any number of species that are currently dying in large numbers due to “unexplained causes”: North America bats, Tasmanian Devils, honeybees. We think the ultimate cause is that things have been irreversibly fucked up by humans, but we could be wrong. Any one of these occurrences could be dismissed as part of the cyclical changes to species that have marked the planets evolution since the beginning of time. But not all of them.


*In Texas, that mean approximately 6,000 years ago.

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