Massive die-off of starfish in Howe Sound

A pile of goo and a carpet of anaerobic bacterial growth is all that's left of dead starfish. Ansel point, West Vancouver. September 21st, 2013 - Photo and Caption from John Martin, taken from http://www.flickr.com/photos/dryodora/with/9881962873/

“A pile of goo and a carpet of anaerobic bacterial growth is all that’s left of dead starfish. Ansel point, West Vancouver. September 21st, 2013″ – Photo and Caption by Jonathan Martin, taken from http://www.flickr.com/photos/dryodora/with/9881962873/

There has recently been a massive die-off of starfish in Howe Sound, which has researchers puzzled. The die-off started sometime in early September and appears to now be affecting most sea star species. The deterioration/decomposition looks to be quite rapid with nothing but a type of white ooze left behind.

"Advanced decomposition of sea stars, mostly P. helianthoides but showing one Solaster dawsoni in a less advanced state of decomposition. Kelvin Grove, September 2, 2013" - Photo and caption by Jonathan Martin, taken from http://www.flickr.com/photos/dryodora/9661850724/

“Advanced decomposition of sea stars, mostly P. helianthoides but showing one Solaster dawsoni in a less advanced state of decomposition. Kelvin Grove, September 2, 2013″ – Photo and caption by Jonathan Martin, taken from http://www.flickr.com/photos/dryodora/9661850724/

There are a range of theories to explain what is happening, with the leading theory being that it may be something similar to “starfish wasting disease”. More on this on Dr. Chris Mah’s echinoblog and comments here. A variety of photos are visible on Jonathan Martin’s flickr photostream

Below are some links to more reports on this, if you have any photos or more information, please send us an email to info@mlssbc.com. In the meantime we’ll post any updates on our website and facebook page.

http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=3433304117507034540&postID=6575880955749429167

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/dead-starfish-in-vancouver-waters-puzzle-scientists-1.1706627

http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2013/09/09/massive-starfish-die-off-baffles-scientists/

http://www.divenewsnetwork.com/index.php/newsevents/divingnews/dnnhotnews/148-nwhotnews/1991-researchers-note-puzzling-sunflower-starfish-peril

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