Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Where are the starfish?

We’re on vacation this week in Coastal Maine, and yesterday at low tide we saw this on a beach south of Belfast:

Healthy Starfish near Belfast, Maine

Sadly, west coast starfish are victims of some kind of unexplained population collapse. There’s even an iNaturalist project to track deaths from the “starfish wasting disease”. Nobody is sure about the cause, though of course everyone’s first guess revolves around the usual suspects: pollution, climate change, George Bush the Koch Brothers. As a non-expert, I think it’s interesting that the population crash apparently follows a similarly-unexplained population explosion a few years ago, so I wonder if it’s just the normal cycle of life.

I thought this was limited to the West Coast, but apparently there are scientists worried about the same thing on the Atlantic. Glad to see that not all starfish are affected, at least not yet.