Sea star die-off

Fish & Invertebrate sightings and descriptions, hosted by resident NWDC ID expert Janna Nichols (nwscubamom).
Tangfish
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Re: Sea star die-off

Post by Tangfish » Sun Sep 07, 2014 11:22 pm

Saw this poor guy at Cove 2 today, probably in about 50 feet of water. Saw a couple healthy ones a bit shallower.

wasting-star-1.jpg


wasting-star-2.jpg


wasting-star-3.jpg

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ljjames
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Re: Sea star die-off

Post by ljjames » Mon Sep 08, 2014 12:30 pm

Thanks for the images... yes, the wasting syndrome is still ongoing. Almost ALL the baby mottled stars that we video'd a few weeks ago are now gone or falling apart :(
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Norris
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Re: Sea star die-off

Post by Norris » Mon Sep 08, 2014 1:56 pm

Lets hope the winters cold temps will help the situation. I understand the higher temps are certainly not helping.
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Re: Sea star die-off

Post by ljjames » Thu Sep 18, 2014 12:13 am

Keep your eyes peeled for more baby stars... report back pretty please...

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Re: Sea star die-off

Post by ljjames » Thu Sep 18, 2014 5:30 pm

For Immediate Release
September 18, 2014

Puget Sound Recovery Caucus proposes bill to find solutions to sea star wasting syndrome and other marine disease emergencies
Congressman Denny Heck unveils Marine Disease Emergency Act to establish official emergency process through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

WASHINGTON, D.C. – To address the sea star wasting syndrome and other major marine disease emergencies, this week Representative Denny Heck (WA-10) and the Puget Sound Recovery Caucus introduced the Marine Disease Emergency Act. The proposed legislation would establish a framework for declaring and responding to a marine disease emergency, and to provide the science community with the resources to proactively protect marine ecosystems from being irreparably damaged by cascading epidemics.

The Marine Disease Emergency Act establishes a declaration process for the Secretary of Commerce, acting through the Administrator of NOAA, to declare a marine disease emergency. The proposed bill outlines the factors needed for a 120-day rapid response plan, including the necessary engagement of individuals and entities at federal, regional, state and local levels to assist in a coordinated and effective response aimed at minimizing the impacts and preventing further transmission. The legislation also requires a post-emergency report detailing current disease status and providing recommendations for improving responses to future marine disease emergencies.

The Marine Disease Emergency Act establishes a national data repository to facilitate research and link different datasets from across the country, as well as a “Marine Disease Emergency Fund” under Treasury in order to accept donations from the public and the industry.

“Sea stars do not function underwater in a vacuum,” said Representative Denny Heck, who represents the South Puget Sound area. “They are in fact a keystone species vital to the ecosystem. When these species face an epidemic, we must engage the scientific community in an organized, rapid-response approach to determine what can be done to halt the damage to our oceans. This could be a sign of a deeper problem.”

Professor Drew Harvell of Cornell University, who studies the ecology and evolution of coral resistance to disease, expressed support for the new policy, saying "Disease outbreaks of marine organisms are predicted to increase with warming oceans and so it’s very welcome to see legislation like the Marine Disease Emergency Act introduced."

"When you pierce the surface of our picturesque water vistas, what's underneath is not OK. We have sea stars that are wasting away, pulling themselves apart and limbs disappearing from their bodies. That is not OK. And it's only getting worse," said Sheida Sahandy, executive director of the Puget Sound Partnership. "We need the ability to respond to these kinds of emergencies as quickly as we would an earthquake or a hurricane. This action creates the support for the kind of nimble response that is required in order to react to fast-acting threats to our ecosystem."

Representatives Heck and Kilmer co-founded the Congressional Puget Sound Caucus last year to reflect their commitment to preserving the Puget Sound. The caucus is the only Congressional working group devoted exclusively to promoting Puget Sound cleanup efforts, and builds on the legacy left by former Congressman Norm Dicks, a longtime advocate for the health of the Puget Sound. The caucus continues to be focused on promoting the three region-wide Puget Sound recovery priorities: preventing pollution from urban stormwater runoff, protecting and restoring habitat, and restoring and re-opening shellfish beds.

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Kati Rutherford, 202-226-4013
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Re: Sea star die-off

Post by derekcs » Fri Oct 31, 2014 11:23 pm

In September, I saw baby sunflower stars at Redondo (http://derekcs.smugmug.com/Underwater/S ... /i-bGKbWg9), Edmonds (http://derekcs.smugmug.com/Underwater/S ... /i-vXDHVx3) and Alki Pipeline (in attachment).
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Re: Sea star die-off

Post by ljjames » Sat Nov 01, 2014 1:03 pm

Thank you! We are really on the lookout for baby stars, and if you see collections of baby stars (like was seen up at Mukilteo several months back). The key is seeing if these baby stars get bigger than about 4-5 inches across, so as you come upon young and adolescent stars if you could have some kind of measuring device to note their size it would be amazing. The thought is that the cool waters of fall/winter will protect and the juveniles will be able to reach a larger size.

Ideas for measuring device - take a paint pen and put a scale on the back of your gloves (if they are stretchy, please do the marking after you have them on) or a sharp on your dry gloves. I put a quick scale on the non-dominant arm of my drysuit, just a few dots that no one notices and the material doesn't stretch so its very easy to just put my arm close to the baby and snap a picture. A simple piece of cave line with some markings that you can tuck into your cuff... a small ruler that can be drilled for a leash and tucked under some bungie on your forearm... I have a small stainless ruler for more exact measurements.
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Re: Sea star die-off

Post by Tom Nic » Sat Nov 01, 2014 6:33 pm

Sund Rock, 2 dives, 7 or 8 4-6" sunflower stars, 6-8 medium sized spiny pink stars, 2 leather stars, all healthy looking.
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Re: Sea star die-off

Post by ljjames » Wed Nov 12, 2014 4:00 pm

Word on the street is that the paper submitted by the scientists will be published early next week! We may have answers (good /bad/ugly) in short order!
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Re: Sea star die-off

Post by dwashbur » Thu Nov 13, 2014 7:28 am

This past Sunday at Sund Rock north I spotted two healthy good-size sunflower stars, the first ones I've seen in ages. I don't know if it means anything, but there's another snippet of data for whoever can use it.
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Re: Sea star die-off

Post by Jan K » Fri Nov 14, 2014 7:34 am

Improvement in Langley waters :)
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Re: Sea star die-off

Post by ljjames » Mon Nov 17, 2014 1:45 pm

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Re: Sea star die-off

Post by CaptnJack » Mon Nov 17, 2014 2:17 pm

Well that's singularly unhelpful :(

A virus (something many of us suspected for awhile), not even a novel one at that. And a whole lotta mysteries about susceptibility. Although honestly such a huge amount of seastar biomass was ripe for a "bust" cycle.
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Re: Sea star die-off

Post by Tom Nic » Mon Nov 17, 2014 2:31 pm

And no more likely to be a "cure" than one for the common cold, I'm guessing.
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Re: Sea star die-off

Post by Desert Diver » Mon Nov 17, 2014 5:46 pm

Any time you get a concentrated enough population of something, diseases eventually take their toll. And there were a LOT of sun stars. When I was growing up in Okanogan County in the 60's there was a large population of skunks. They disappeared and only very recently, last 10 years are we seeing some. We had major populations of jack rabbits then. Have not seen one since. Certainly we have real problems controlling disease in our fruit trees, planted close together with identical DNA. World War 1 put large groups of humans in close contact with marginal cleanliness and my great grandmother died of the flu.

I like sea stars but I like the other populations that they were destroying too. Lets hope that resistant populations develop so the cycle can start anew.

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Re: Sea star die-off

Post by ljjames » Thu Nov 20, 2014 12:37 pm

When people used to ask me "what is there to see shallow, I thought all the cool stuff is deep, isn't that why you get tech certified?" I would often recount a story about the pilings in Cove 1. We'd dove the monolith, visited a giant octopus, racked up wee bit of deco swimming across acres of mud, etc... All in all a successful northwest dive, but the best part was the final 20-25 min. Visibility was quite stunning and we were just wandering around at deco/end of dive nonsense when we came upon the first set of pilings.
Strangely enough I'd never visited them before, mostly because the only purpose of cove 1 in my mind was a mud hole for OW 1 students (to keep them away from Cove 2 or Junkyard) or as an entry point to dive the Monolith. Maybe it was just the visibility and the light (and my old camera doesn't do it justice) the residual nitrogen and O2 euphoria at deco, but similar to the epic dive on the vertical barge at Shilshole with the sun streaming down making rippling patterns on the seafloor the thought crossed my mind that 'this was one of the most beautiful places, and how ironic that it was right here in 20' of water, city backdrop and salty's a stones throw away, almost on top of a superfund site.
Well, you get my drift... Anyhow, part of what made it brilliant was the biodiversity, the colors, the invertebrates, the fish... It just felt so _alive_.
When sea star wasting syndrome hit, and I was trying to think of transects that people could easily video (or maybe already had some baseline video of - myself included) I opted for cove 1. The transects are all easily findable objects, "face of the outfall" "rock pile to outfall", Piling set 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 etc... And most important, I knew somewhere in my archives I had older video showing the biodiversity of the pilings. Here a 'changes over time' video (you know how much I love making those) from 2006 to the present.
Now we need to document the changes in biodiversity and the recovery of the sea stars. Even though they found an associated virus, the story is not done. There are years of ecological observations to be made. Observe with diver eye, still or video camera, or home-brew ROV, however you like, just get out, document and observe. I would be happy to make you a collaborator on our Open Explorer digital field journal https://openexplorer.com/expedition/sea ... romesurvey (or make your own for your local dive site)
so that we the diving community can document the continued changes together. It won't change the world or the course of the disease, but having a record of observations will help us recognize changes when we see them.

Sorry about the long post, time for a video :)

phpBB [video]
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Re: Sea star die-off

Post by ljjames » Fri Nov 21, 2014 2:36 pm

short version.

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Re: Sea star die-off

Post by derekcs » Wed Dec 10, 2014 12:00 am

http://derekcs.smugmug.com/Underwater/S ... les-20141/

Saw several striped sun stars and rose sea stars at Alki Rockpiles on Saturday. The striped sea stars were a couple feet wide. The rose sea stars were about fist sized. All looked healthy. I've been at the Rockpiles a few times over the last several months, and it's the first time I remember seeing either type of star there.
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Re: Sea star die-off

Post by Furnari » Mon Dec 15, 2014 8:31 pm

Saw 2 wasting stars in Winchester Bay, Oregon yesterday. Viz averaged a little more than 2', so it wasn't the best statistical sample. I did see healthy several 1-inch stars, however. A few weeks ago I dove the same site (with much better viz) and noticed several healthy adults and no wasting stars.
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Re: Sea star die-off

Post by derekcs » Sun Feb 01, 2015 9:27 pm

Saw around a dozen sunflower stars at Alki Pipeline yesterday. Fist-sized or smaller. All healthy. There was a pile of white residue that looked like the remains of a wasted star, however.

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Re: Sea star die-off

Post by ScubaJess » Mon Feb 02, 2015 7:04 am

Saw 3 really big good looking leather stars at Keystone on Saturday and a few small sunflower stars that looked ok too! :)
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Re: Sea star die-off

Post by ljjames » Mon Feb 02, 2015 5:10 pm

Keep the reports coming! We are most interested in the sunflower stars, ochre stars and mottled stars and seeing if they are able to mature to medium/large sizes. Right now the crop of sunflower and mottled seems to be mostly hand sized or smaller and when they reach greater than hand size (I know, hands vary) they start showing signs of the disease. At least down here in the mid sound we are not really seeing a comeback of the ochre star, but I think Jan is seeing some up north.

Even down here in the total death zone where our piling transects still have no other stars, we have leather stars, so it is not surprising that folks are finding them fat and healthy :) I would be more surprised and concerned if we were finding wasted leather stars.

Are you guys seeing green urchins showing up where they haven't been seen in 15 years or have only been seen in small numbers? I know Jan has been documenting them on his transects, and we are seeing them in mid-sound as well. Most likely due to lack of predation by starfish on the recruits, but there is also a historical record of a green urchin bloom correlated to a big plankton bloom cycle back in the late 80's or thereabouts, so we have to remember there can be alternative explanations, and trying to gather as much data as things recover will be key.
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Re: Sea star die-off

Post by enchantmentdivi » Mon Feb 02, 2015 5:51 pm

I was SHOCKED at the numbers of green urchins at Keystone this past weekend. Last time, I was there was in June, and there was a noticeable difference between then and now. And, they seem to be doing quite a job at scouring the life on the jetty! Seems once we hit about 50 ft, the jetty started looking normal to me again, but above that, it didn't look good. :(
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Re: Sea star die-off

Post by Tom Nic » Mon Feb 02, 2015 8:23 pm

ljjames wrote:Are you guys seeing green urchins showing up where they haven't been seen in 15 years or have only been seen in small numbers?


Three Tree and Redondo have more Green Sea Urchins than I have seen in the 8 years I've been diving those site.
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Re: Sea star die-off

Post by Tangfish » Mon Feb 02, 2015 8:24 pm

I'd say the sea urchins are one of the prime beneficiaries of the sea star die-off. Damn spiny bastards!

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