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Olympic Peninsula, Wa

ZOMBIE STARFISH ATTACKING WASHINGTON COAST

Or not…

UPDATED STORY HERE:  http://www.theverge.com/2014/11/18/7222479/starfish-wasting-quest-save-keystone-species

 

 

The Peninsula Daily News is reporting that a “Mysterious affliction is causing a ‘horror show’ among sea stars on Olympic Peninsula coast” and scientists are baffled. This is a serious issue, as Sea Stars are an incredibly important to the coastal community. Not only are they friends with a sponge, they also are considered a much needed predator along the shore. I had never thought of Sea Stars (or starfish?) as much more than a cool thing you find along the shore, until I went hiking as a kid along the beach in LaPush. I remember seeing a yellowish starfish devouring a mussel, and while it wasn’t the most scenic of experiences, it still gave starfish a cool image.

 

Friends stick together

Friends stick together

 

 

Right now on the coast, creeping into Puget Sound and the Salish Sea, an unknown substance is causing the starfish to lose their limbs and develop white lesions on their bodies. In one spot, 25% of the starfish were infected.  This isn’t just limited to the Olympic Peninsula and the Olympic National Park. Starfish with these ailments have been reported from San Diego to Ketchikan, a distance of over 1,700 miles.  The health of the sea is incredibly important, when large amounts of life are impacted, we need to pay attention. If Panda Bears had lesions on them from a disease and were losing limbs, people would care. Pandas eat only 42 out of the thousand species of bamboo and defecate over 40 times a day, and we love them. So why not love the Sea Stars and pay attention to them getting a nasty disease?

 

Starlight

Starlight

 

Researchers, both locally and nationally, are searching for clues as to what is causing this disease. It could be anything. Maybe it is something natural and is a cycle that the sea star population is going through. Maybe it is from years of polluting the ocean with trash and sewage, while climate change raises the water level. Maybe it is from the Fukushima Nuclear Reactor that was swallowed by a tsunami, impacting the starfish, causing them to be flesh eating zombies, setting off the apocalypse. Who knows?

 

Give me a hug!

Give me a hug!

 

We need to care about issues like this with the same passion as we do for killer whales. Not just for the obvious environmental reasons that can’t be ignored, but for something shellfish. Sorry, I really couldn’t resist that.  We need to be selfish about these issues like this for future generations. Kids need to grow up in a world where starfish look colorful and fun. Where going to the beach and playing in tide pools is fun and weird and not gross and disgusting. Not one where we have to see lesions on a rad creature.

 

Maybe Zombie Starfish won’t kill us all. Maybe the disease will go away and life will return to normal for life under the sea. I don’t know. I just wanted to make you aware of this story. Hopefully the zombie virus doesn’t spread to our salmon. Oh, wait…

 

Zombie Salmon of the Olympic National Park

Zombie Salmon of the Olympic National Park

 

 

Full article: http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20131222/NEWS/312229987/mysterious-affliction-causing-horror-show-among-sea-stars-on

 

 

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