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Tue Nov 18, 2014, 12:52 AM

Study links virus to sea star wasting

Source: Times-Standard

Marking a major breakthrough in the mystery of one of the largest wildlife die-offs ever recorded in the world's oceans, scientists believe they have found the cause of a disease that has killed millions of starfish since last year along California and the Pacific Coast.

The epidemic, which threatens to reshape the coastal food web and change the makeup of tide pools for years to come, appears to be driven by a previously unidentified virus, a team of more than a dozen researchers from Cornell University, UC Santa Cruz, the Monterey Bay Aquarium and other institutions reported Monday.

Scientists found that the same virus that is killing starfish today is also present in museum starfish specimens dating back to 1942, indicating the disease has been present in Pacific waters for 72 years. Yet although there were smaller outbreaks in years past, nobody knows what triggered the current marine plague, which has killed up to 95 percent of starfish in some areas and spread from Alaska to Mexico.

"Something may have happened recently that caused it to go rogue, because we've never seen anything like the current outbreak," said Peter Raimondi, a professor of biology at UC Santa Cruz and co-author of the study.

Read more: http://www.times-standard.com/localnews/ci_26957893/study-links-virus-sea-star-wasting

16 replies, 4013 views

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Arrow 16 replies Author Time Post
Reply Study links virus to sea star wasting (Original post)
IDemo Nov 2014 OP
NYC_SKP Nov 2014 #1
dionysus Nov 2014 #6
bananas Nov 2014 #8
bananas Nov 2014 #7
Yo_Mama Nov 2014 #14
bhikkhu Nov 2014 #2
ffr Nov 2014 #4
lonestarnot Nov 2014 #3
SunSeeker Nov 2014 #5
HuckleB Nov 2014 #9
greiner3 Nov 2014 #10
NYC_SKP Nov 2014 #11
bhikkhu Nov 2014 #12
on point Nov 2014 #13
RobertEarl Nov 2014 #15
RobertEarl Nov 2014 #16

Response to IDemo (Original post)

Tue Nov 18, 2014, 12:56 AM

1. So. it's not Fukushima... enenews is wrong again. Not surprised. nt

 

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Response to NYC_SKP (Reply #1)

Tue Nov 18, 2014, 02:02 AM

6. not so fast! "Something may have happened recently that caused it to go rogue" RADIATION!111!@121!1


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Response to dionysus (Reply #6)

Tue Nov 18, 2014, 02:10 AM

8. Scientist says radiation from nuclear plant damaged by 2011 earthquake can’t be ruled out

http://www.news1130.com/2013/12/30/starfish-wasting-disease-outbreak-could-be-due-to-radiation/

Starfish Wasting Disease outbreak could be due to radiation

Scientist says radiation from nuclear plant damaged by 2011 earthquake can’t be ruled out

Sara Norman December 30, 2013 3:37 am

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Researchers say nuclear pollution from the 2011 earthquake in Japan that damaged the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant could be partially to blame for a disease wiping out starfish along the West Coast.

Dr. Peter Raimondi of the University of Santa Cruz says something is making starfish susceptible to whats believed to be a bacteria coined “Wasting Disease.” It essentially disintegrate the marine invertebrates into a white goo, after the starfish loses its legs.

He says what’s making sea stars unable to fight off the bacteria could be anything from warm water to toxins–but Raimondi also says scientists can’t rule out nuclear pollution, especially in light of the tsunami that followed the 2011 earthquake.

It washed large amounts of debris to our shores–and Raimondi says nuclear pollution could have come with that.

“One of the byproducts is obviously nuclear radiation discharge. The second thing is debris, tons of debris, which has shown up especially on the North West Coast,” he adds.

<snip>


Via http://enenews.com/lead-researcher-fukushima-pollution-a-cause-of-epidemic-wiping-out-starfish-along-west-coast-sea-urchins-and-sea-cucumbers-also-affected-something-is-making-them-susceptible-infection-it

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Response to NYC_SKP (Reply #1)

Tue Nov 18, 2014, 02:04 AM

7. Or maybe it was Fukushima: "Something may have happened recently that caused it to go rogue, becaus"

"Something may have happened recently that caused it to go rogue, because we've never seen anything like the current outbreak," said Peter Raimondi, a professor of biology at UC Santa Cruz and co-author of the study.


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Response to bananas (Reply #7)

Tue Nov 18, 2014, 12:25 PM

14. Well, it's not radiation, because that hasn't changed.

But we have seen very warm coastal waters in recent years. Maybe that makes for the right conditions, or maybe it's just crowding (population density). I read that the populations of these critters had hugely expanded in recent years.The boom and bust population phenomenon is widely found in nature, and apparently it's known to be part of the sea star life cycle. Plenty of food = rapid population growth = growth to peak environment can support = some low food conditions = susceptibility to plague.

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Response to IDemo (Original post)

Tue Nov 18, 2014, 01:12 AM

2. Ocean temperatures are one thing that's changed

ocean acidity is another. Unfortunately, nothing can be done about either of those in the short or medium-terms.

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Response to bhikkhu (Reply #2)

Tue Nov 18, 2014, 01:25 AM

4. I agree. Every living thing is a product of its environment

Apparently that environment is unhealthy.

It could have something to do with them being more unhealthy, as in their immune systems are weak, which is making a possible ever-present virus more lethal to them. And I'm betting other species will suffer similar fates. Heck, if we didn't know any better, we'd still be using DDT on agricultural crops because it made for higher crop yields and not realizing it contributed to premature births and defects.

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Response to IDemo (Original post)

Tue Nov 18, 2014, 01:20 AM

3. Sadness. I hate this. I love those little things and sea horses and octipuses octipi.

 

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Response to IDemo (Original post)

Tue Nov 18, 2014, 01:35 AM

5. There was an anchovy die-off along the West Coast too.

Then all those emaciated baby seals washing up along the beaches of So. Cal. I think it's all connected.

Our oceans are so stressed. It breaks my heart.

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Response to IDemo (Original post)

Tue Nov 18, 2014, 02:32 AM

9. Kick and Rec. This is affecting sea stars far north, as well.

We were in Canada's Pacific Rim NP this summer. (Absolutely incredible!), and were still lucky to see hundreds of healthy Sea Stars, but we did see plenty of them affected by the virus.

Next step...

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Response to IDemo (Original post)

Tue Nov 18, 2014, 10:42 AM

10. The Times-Standard article mentioned above does not contain vital info that is available;

 

From the original paper's abstract available from;

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20066959

"This study investigates wasting disease in the northeast Pacific keystone predatory sea star Pisaster ochraceus on the outer west coast of Vancouver Island (British Columbia, Canada). To quantify the effects of temperature, season and locality on the vulnerability of P. ochraceus to wasting disease, we conducted surveys and experiments in early and late summer. To test the prediction that a small increase in temperature would result in heightened infection intensities, we housed sea stars at different temperatures in the laboratory and caged sea stars subtidally at 2 depths. Prevalence and infection intensity were always higher in warm temperature treatments and did not differ between the sexes or with increasing size. Disease effects also varied with season and locality. Specimens held in aquaria displayed significantly higher disease prevalence and infection intensity in June versus August. Furthermore, sea stars from a sheltered inlet showed markedly higher prevalence of the disease in late summer, while wave-exposed sites had consistently low disease prevalence. Seasonal changes in reproductive potential, host condition and/or physiological acclimation, as well as differences in environmental regime among localities, may impact the dynamics of wasting disease. These results demonstrate that small increases in temperature could drive mass mortalities of Pisaster due to wasting disease, with vulnerability possibly reaching a peak in spring and in populations from sheltered localities. This is the most northern report of wasting disease in the class Asteroidea on the west coast of North America."

There is also a Raw Story article from the lead researcher and the scientist of the NIH paper who first noticed the wasting disease;

"It was a gruesome sight. Symptoms of wasting started with lesions or bulging of the tissues, and in some cases, the arms even dropped off. I tried anti-fungal and bacteria agents, and even tea tree oil, yet the only way that I found to control the disease was to move infected animals to cooler temperatures."

"What struck me at the time was how rapidly wasting spread among my animals, with death the ultimate outcome, all in the span of few days. In particular, I found that outbreaks occurred when animals were exposed to temperatures that were warmer than they were used to."

And here she does mention the above paper;

"In a scientific study where I reported these results with my collaborators, I suggested that this “sea star wasting disease” could be triggered by changing climate conditions and even lead to large-scale outbreaks."

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/11/mystery-virus-that-turned-millions-of-starfish-into-goo-is-finally-identifie/

The Times-Standard did not report on the outbreak is triggered on, wait for it, Global Warming.

I did look at where the Times-Standard is located and since it is north California and includes Eureka, CA, I may be jumping to conclusions, but I have a prejudice thinking it covers Progressive issues in a very positive light, but maybe not.

I just think their article was short sighted and needs the info from both the article in Raw Story and to give their article credence, the NIH abstract also.

This article is much better than the paper's and if you want more info check out Raw Story's.

An aside, as I looked up Times-Standard and it is owned by MediaNews and from the Wiki page of the company;

"MediaNews Group is known as a cost-cutter in the newspaper publishing industry. The company has a reputation for buying smaller daily newspapers in a single area (examples include Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area) and consolidating their operations, including sharing staff writers and printing facilities. As a result of the cost-cutting, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times,[14] some former employees say that the newspapers are focused on making a profit to the detriment of good journalism."

And as to their politics, I went down the 'rabbit hole' and could not find this info quickly and since I'm now out of time to further this post...

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Response to greiner3 (Reply #10)

Tue Nov 18, 2014, 10:54 AM

11. Thanks for the added info.

 

Sea temp changes and acidification are going to affect a lot more than just starfish populations.

It's very sad.

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Response to greiner3 (Reply #10)

Tue Nov 18, 2014, 10:58 AM

12. Good information. "Nobody know", "Mysterious", and "Fukushima Radiation?"

seem to get more clicks generally though.

Ocean temperatures would seem the most likely factor:

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Response to greiner3 (Reply #10)

Tue Nov 18, 2014, 11:40 AM

13. From Reading experience, they are right wing enough I don't buy, but not too blatant.

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Response to IDemo (Original post)

Tue Nov 18, 2014, 06:05 PM

15. Starfish dying in the NW Pacific

 

The link below goes to a thread I started last January.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1002&pid=4381218

This is a copy of that OP:


We've all heard about how the starfish have been dying in the waters in the NW Pacific Ocean. Divers claim to have seen them melt away right before their eyes. Melting is what happens when a starfish dies. So what is making the starfish die? No one seems to know. So I have done a bit of research and in the following posts will share that research with you.

In summary, starfish are known to be an 'keystone' specie. That means starfish populations have direct effects on other species in the starfish habitat. Starfish are fairly unique in that they can regenerate parts of their bodies. How they do that is not exactly clear. But in that sense they are very special.

Starfish eat many things. Mostly bottom dwelling things. Like mussels. It has been discovered that if starfish are removed from some locations, mussel populations explode. It has been discovered that mussels near Alaska have very high concentrations of radioisotopes. When starfish eat these mussels, the radioisotopes then are in the starfish. That is known as moving up the food chain.

How do mussels get the plutonium in them? Mussels are filter feeders. Mussels feed by filtering water and taking suspended solids from that water. Plutonium, and other heavy metals drift to the bottom where the mussels are, and the mussels, in their feeding, filter out the plutonium which ends up in the mussel's meat which the starfish eat.

Conclusion: Atmospheric deposition of radioisotopes from Fukushima is established. Plutonium from Fukushima has been found in mussels in the NW Pacific. Starfish eat mussels. Starfish are dying and causing researchers great alarm. It is possible that plutonium is killing the starfish.

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Response to RobertEarl (Reply #15)

Tue Nov 18, 2014, 06:20 PM

16. And there is this: Decaying Atoms

 

There was a large amount of airborne radioactive material that came across the Pacific on the days following the explosions at Fukushima.

Each time it rained in the days thereafter, a little more of the Cesium and other radioactive materials came down from the sky. And each time it rained a little of it ran off into the rivers which end up in the ocean. Where the sea stars live.

The half-life for some of these Fukushima byproducts is anywhere from 2 to 30 to hundreds of years. What half-life means is that the atoms decay at a rate where it is expected that half of those atoms will have decayed in that half-life time.

As these atoms decay, particles are emitted. Those particles and the energy with them - known as gamma and beta rays - are known genomic destabilizers. Meaning they mess up life as we know it.

Sea stars live in that radioactive soup. It can be expected that their bodies and the food they eat have become polluted with radiating, decaying, atoms.

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