Puget Sound Sea Star Retrieval & Experiments – April-Jul 2017

IMG_3625In the spring of 2017, Elliot traveled to the Puget Sound to collect sea stars with Jan Kocian to then house them at the USGS Marrowstone Marine Field Station. We were working with Paul Hershberger, the director of the field station, to conduct disease challenge experiments with two pisaster species, the ochre and pink star, and the mottled star. Disease challenge experiments are critical to studying any disease because it allows scientists to study the disease longitudinally and under a controlled laboratory environment. Previous challenge experiments have been conducted using the sunflower star which led to the hypothesis that a virus is the causative agent of SSWD so we wanted to test this hypothesis in other sea star species. Unfortunately, the experiments did not work which could be due to a number of factors such as host susceptibility or the inoculum used did not contain an adequate dosage of infectious agent. For these reasons and others, we are taking a different direction by attempting to create viral clones