Baby starfish are back! In this July 30, 2015 file photo, a healthy sea star is seen under a magnifying glass during a survey to determine the health of local sea star populations at Camano Island State Park in Washington state. (Ian Terry/The Herald via AP, File/AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
Baby starfish are back!
Lexile

Droves of baby starfish are returning to Oregon and Northern California's shores after a wasting disease decimated whole populations of the creatures over the past two years along the West Coast.
 
Data collected by Oregon State University researchers shows an unprecedented number of baby starfish, or sea stars, survived the summer and winter of 2015, the Eureka Times Standard has reported.
 
"When we looked at the settlement of the larval sea stars on rocks in 2014 during the epidemic, it was the same or maybe even a bit lower than previous years," Oregon State University marine biology professor Bruce Menge said in a statement.
 
"But a few months later, the number of juveniles was off the charts - higher than we'd ever seen - as much as 300 times normal."
 
A similar increase was found at sites just north of Trinidad, California. It is near Patrick's Point State Park. A baby starfish boom also was noted in the summer of 2014 near Santa Cruz.
 
A virus killed millions of starfish on the Pacific Coast from Southern California to Alaska by causing them to lose their limbs and eventually disintegrate into slime and piles of tiny bones.
 
The cause of the outbreak remains unclear. Some have hypothesized it to be abnormally warm waters in the Pacific Ocean, which have wreaked havoc on marine ecosystems for the past two years.
 
Humboldt State University Marine Lab Director Brian Tissot disagrees with that hypothesis. That is because the virus spread during colder months and didn't expand as much during the abnormally warm 2015.
 
"There is no clear environmental cue," Tissot said. He added that the deadly wasting disease has declined in intensity but remains present.
 
Experts say that while it's encouraging to see the abundance of baby starfish, the disease, competition and environmental factors make their survival difficult.

Filed Under:  
Assigned 32 times
CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why don't we know what was killing the starfish?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (7)
  • Eric0221-YYCA
    5/16/2016 - 08:23 p.m.

    The baby starfishes had been coming back to the ocean in which scientists had been looking for any of the starfishes that had been dying from a disease that had been wiping out the whole populations of the starfishes. The scientists had been able to hypothesize about the starfish coming back to the shores is that they would be able to study more about the starfishes after a disease had wiped them out. The starfishes were then wiped out by a certain disease that had wiped out the entire species of starfish but the baby starfishes had managed to survive the disease. Scientists had been able to study more of the starfishes after they had came back from the disease that had wiped out most of the species of starfish from the ocean.
    Critical Thinking Question: Why don't we know what was killing the starfish?
    Answer: I know that we don't know what was killing the starfish because they didn't study the bacteria that was killing off the species of starfish.

  • samanthas-1-ste
    5/17/2016 - 11:19 a.m.

    We know that a virus was killing the starfish, but we dont know how it got there. Scientists are coming up with certain theories, but the truth is still unclear.

  • TehyaWhite-Ste
    5/17/2016 - 07:42 p.m.

    They don't know what it was exactly because they have no clear environmental clue and other things such and competition could also be killing them since they are so little.

  • ShawnaWeiser-Ste
    5/23/2016 - 01:26 p.m.

    Starfish are so cute. Every time I think of starfish, I think of Patrick from Spongebob and I couldn't imagine not having him in the show.

  • Steve0620-yyca
    6/09/2016 - 05:54 p.m.

    I think that it is hopeful that the starfish population is growing. A virus started to kill the starfish and have many negative effects on them. They were losing limbs, turning into pile of bones, and disintegrating. Scientists are trying to find out the cause of the disease. It has been going on for two year. It makes survival difficult for the creatures. I hope that the creatures will keep on fighting to survive and grow.
    I think that we don't know what was killing the starfish because there is no clue. The virus could have spread through many different ways in different temperatures. The scientists are still researching and trying to figure out the cause.

  • TaylorSeifert-Ste
    7/31/2016 - 12:03 a.m.

    We don't know what was killing the starfish because scientist were not able to determine how the disease spread or where it came from. They do believe that it was a disease, not an effect of environmental abnormalities, but what disease was never discovered. While the starfish population has increased, the creatures still face difficulties to survive due to disease, competition, and other environmental factors.

  • jadenj-pav
    9/22/2016 - 10:01 a.m.

    This is such good news!I am so glad baby starfish are coming back because bio diversity in aquatic life is very important in marine biology. Even though we don't know what was killing them now we can spend more time finding out what did.

Take the Quiz Leave a comment
ADVERTISEMENT