Just Another Nature Enthusiast

JANE’s Images & Thoughts 🌲 Inspired by the Pacific Northwest & places I wander

Sea Star Wasting Syndrome Cause May Be Environmental

Sea Star Wasting Syndrome Cause May Be Environmental
Why did I reblog this post?

Sea Star Wasting Syndrome is a phenomenon that catches the attention and interest of members of both scientific and non-scientific communities. Anyone who visits a tidal pool along the Oregon Coast and other West Coast states from Alaska to California has most likely seen this distressful condition.


This report about a Sea Star Wasting Syndrome symposium held recently at the OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, Oregon caught my attention because it illustrates how puzzling this high-mortality, wide-spread calamity has become for marine science experts. Until the cause of SSWS becomes clear, and a solution for the wide-spread problem is discovered, all who admire this keystone species will remain troubled by its plight.


As a member of the Oregon Master Naturalist Program, I am anxious to learn about the conclusions and outcomes that will be extracted from this consortium of experts. Their reports are expected to be published sometime in August.


August 6, 2014

Sea Star Wasting Syndrome is the topic of this article written in Yale360. It caught my attention with the suggestion that SSWT is occurring on both coasts of North America.


Scientists Look for Causes of Baffling Die-Off of Sea Stars by Eric Wagner: Yale Environment 360

October 1, 2014

Tragic situation at Haystack Rock Tidal Pools

Starfish Nearly Vanished From Popular Destination On Oregon Coast


5 comments on “Sea Star Wasting Syndrome Cause May Be Environmental”

  1. Re: Sea Star Wasting. How could this disease NOT be connected to changes in the environment? A scientific conference comes up with the obvious. Again. It just makes me want to say ‘duhhh’.

  2. I see what you mean, Bonnie… but, hopefully the result of the sea star summit has been the opportunity for synthesis and to once and for all draw definitive conclusions by having data collated/ correlated.

    Is there any hope for a happy ending to this tragedy?

  3. Addendum to my repost-

    The original version of this post appeared in the Sea Grant Oregon blog, Breaking Waves, on July 24, 2014.

    The following information appeared as part of the unabridged article:

    Learn more
    To find out more about SSWS, or to get involved in the monitoring, visit these sites with information on citizen science programs near you:
    • You can discover detailed information about SSWS and citizen science links at the following University of California, Santa Cruz link:
    • You can investigate the presence and absence of SSWS in certain areas with this interactive map:http://data.piscoweb.org/marine1/seastardisease.html
    Sea Star Wasting Syndrome Timeline:
    • 1976-79: A devastating SSWS event took out large numbers of sea stars along the west coast. It was believed to be a bacterial event due to the effectiveness of antibiotic treatment.
    • 1983-84: SSWS was found in areas with warmer waters as a result of an intense El Nino event. The outbreak spread to other echinoderms  such as sea urchins. Cold winter temperatures halted the spread.
    • 1997-98: Another round of SSWS hit, also spurred by an intense El Nino, but subsided in the winter like previous events.
    • June 2013: The current bout of SSWS was discovered in Olympic National Park in Washington.
    • October/November 2013: Sea stars began dying in large numbers in Monterey, CA.
    • December 2013: SSWS was detected at sites ranging from Alaska to San Diego. Oregon seemed immune at this point for unknown reasons.
    • January 2014: Despite the fact that previous SSWS events subsided during the winter,  the current outbreak continued to spread, especially in southern California.
    • April 2014: While SSWS spread widely along the California and Washington coasts, less than 1% of Oregon stars exhibited signs of the disease.
    • May 2014: About halfway through the month, the percentage of stars exhibiting SSWS skyrocketed in Oregon to between 40 and 60 percent of the populations surveyed.
    • June 2014: Researchers convened at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, OR, to discuss what is known and what should be done about SSWS.

Please, do tell... what caught your attention?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Curious by nature?

%d bloggers like this: