NEWPORT, Ore. — The Oregon Coast Aquarium’s scientific dive team says the fatal sea star wasting syndrome has been observed off Oregon’s central coast.
The team observed sunflower stars, ochre stars and giant pink stars with intermediate to advanced signs of wasting syndrome on an April 27 in the Yaquina Bay. Sea star wasting syndrome symptoms causes sea stars to slowly disintegrate as each ray walks away and eventually dissolves.
Researchers have observed the condition in 12 different species and are still unsure about what causes the condition. The ochre star and the sunflower star appear to be the most affected, which means they are top predators that maintain an important balance in Oregon’s rocky reef ecosystems.
“We have a great team of trained biologists and scuba divers that are often submersed looking to better understand these ecosystems, and also, trends that happen over time,” said Jim Burke, Aquarium’s Director of Animal Husbandry.
The Aquarium’s scientific divers and their partners will research the mass die-off, to learn more about what causes the syndrome and the sea star species.