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A starfish horror story is unfolding in the North American Pacific coast

By Leonard Ho - Posted Feb 03, 2014 09:00 AM
A mysterious and terrible disease is ravaging starfish up and down the Pacific coastline of North America. The speed of infection, mass mortality, and the way the starfish are dying are all equally shocking. A disease is causing the arms of thousands of starfish to literally rip themselves off their bodies before everything melts away.

The more arms ... to dismember

Imagine a disease that forces your limbs to tear themselves off and run from your body before you dissolve into a mass of goo.  While it sounds like the makings of a gore movie, this is exactly what is happening to starfish across the North American Pacific coast.  PBS reporter Katie Campbell describes the disease in horrifying terms: "The arms crawl in opposite directions, until they tear away from the body and their insides spill out."

"Starfish Wasting Syndrome" was first observed in the Pacific Northwest last summer and has now spread across most North American Pacific shores.  The pathogen responsible for this grotesques disease is still unknown, but scientists say they are making good progress and may reveal the answers in coming months.

A possible (however unlikely and ecologically dangerous) silver lining: What if this pathogen can teach us how to manage Crown of Thorns starfish in the Indo-Pacific?

PBS News reports:

Author: Leonard Ho
Location: Southern California

I'm a passionate aquarist of over 30 years, a coral reef lover, and the blog editor for Advanced Aquarist. While aquarium gadgets interest me, it's really livestock (especially fish), artistry of aquariums, and "method behind the madness" processes that captivate my attention.


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