Starfish to Slime

Recent scientists in San Francisco came across a disease that appears to be depleting starfish in record numbers along the U.S. West Coast. In the article Mysterious Disease Turns Starfish to 'Slime' on U.S. West Coast, the author Laila Kearney states, "This disease is causing the sea creatures to lose their limbs and turn to slime in a matter of days." 

This disease is known as the "star wasting disease." Marine biologists and ecologists are beginning an extensive survey along the coasts of California, Washington, and Oregon to determine the reach and source of this devastating outbreak. Pete Raimondi, chair of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California at Santa Cruz's Long Marine Lab, states "It's pretty spooky because we don't have any obvious culprit for the root cause even though we know it's likely cause by a pathogen." 

Although it has been recorded that starfish have been suffering from this disease for decades, the numbers were not nearly as large as they are now. In one of the tide pools, 90 to 95 percent of the starfish found were killed by this disease.

Starfish are not a life necessity to humans, but marine biologists still do not want the to go extinct. Most scientists are attempting to figure out how to end this problem, but most of them don't know how bad it is actually going to get in the future. 

I don't think it is a life or death situation if these marine biologists cannot figure out what is causing these starfish to turn to slime, but it might be helpful if they do because it could lead to other findings. It probably won't affect humans either way but marine biologists are trying to prevent another species from going extinct. 



Interestingly enough, starfish play a vital role in maintaining the health of an ecosystem. They act as consumers that feed off of dead marine life, allowing for the cleanliness of oceans by removing excess decomposing tissue. They also serve as the prey of alaskan king crab, a popular dish here in the US. If the disease detailed in your blog were to spread that far north of San Francisco, a lot of restaurants and crab connoisseurs would be inconvenienced. More importantly, however, there would be a lot more biological detritus, as evidenced by this fascinating (and frightening) video:

Hearing about diseases like these that seems to just appear and scientists have no answer for always make me think if something like this could happen to the human race. I doubt we would turn into slim like the starfish are but we never know when we could have an epidemic of something. Hollywood makes movies all the time of mass amounts of people dying from some airborne disease or something. Yes, I realize it's only a movie but it still makes you think about possible real life situations. I think that even thought starfish aren't extremely vital to our life, but they could be vital to other organisms, and if we can save them, why would be let them go extinct? The link below lists just couple reasons as to how starfish positively effect our lives.

Anytime I hear these types of rare diseases spreading into our ecosystem I get nervous. First of all, they are a vital part of our system as Dylan mentioned. It is important for the food chain to contain these different animals. Also, I worry that these diseases could spread into the water we drink and use everyday. It's a scary thought, but it's worth looking into. By this spreading into different waters, the seafood we consume could be polluted too. There have already been other outbreaks of rare diseases in a lot of seafood on the west coast. I think it's a really interesting topic because people ignore articles and information like this without realizing that it could really affect them. I grew up on the West Coast, not far from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. They post really interesting articles about seafood and animals. I found an article about seafoods that you should stay away from eating, and from what regions. I found it really interesting if you're interested here is the link!

Leave a comment

Subscribe to receive notifications of follow up comments via email.
We are processing your request. If you don't see any confirmation within 30 seconds, please reload your page.

Search This Blog

Full Text  Tag

Recent Entries

No-Shave November: Do Women Hate Our Beards?
This fall, I've been seeing a lot of scruff. Whether it's the boys from Boston growing out their playoff…
Do Brain Games Work?
I am unfortunately a part of the seemingly large percentage of people who believe they have a bad memory.…
Home Sweet Home: Defining and Treating Homesickness
"Maybe you had to leave in order to really miss a place; maybe you had to travel to figure out…

Old Contributions