Wasting when you don’t want it, and no wasting when you do want it…

Microbial Ecology of Sea Star Wasting Disease

Summer’s wound up for another year, which means the end of a field season. Sea star wasting is, however, only just ramping up. We’ve sadly learned of wasting in several constantly monitored populations of sea stars which had shown a strong recovery since the 2013-2014 mass die-off, including at Langley Harbor (Whidbey Island), in the northern Salish Sea, strangely, in the National Aquarium in Washington DC. It’s a depressingly familiar situation.

IMG_9352 2Wasting Pisaster ochraceus – Davenport, CA, July 2018

Our efforts to manipulate physical conditions to test their impact on sea star wasting started well; together with our superstar REU Citlalli Aquino (Junior at UC Santa Cruz), we collected 12 animals near Santa Cruz, CA and placed them in aquaria at the Long Marine Laboratory in late May. All seemed to be going well, until about 2 weeks later, when one, then two, then 7 then 12 ochre stars developed…

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