Mystery sea star disease appears to be spreading


Editor's Picks
 A perfect place for your Fighter to rest his little fins — the Betta Bed Leaf Hammock.
Gear Post
Review: Betta Bed Leaf Hammock
21 November 2017
 Just look at that little face... No wonder then, that so many fishkeepers find these little puffers so hard to resist.
Features Post
Join the puffer fish fan club!
28 September 2017
 Special care needs to be taken when catching Pictus catfish and other species with spines.
Features Post
Travels with your fish
03 August 2017

A rather nasty disease that causes sea stars to disintegrate is showing no signs of going away.

The disease, which turns the bodies of the sea stars to goo, was first noted by divers in September at a popular dive spot in West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and staff at Vancouver Aquarium were alerted.

Dead sea stars have since turned up along the coast from Alaska down to Southern California and may be affecting the sea star population as far south as Mexico, though data from that area hasn't been collected yet.
Originally the disease was hitting mainly Sunflower sea stars (Pycnopodia helianthoides) but other species such as Purple stars (Pisaster ochraceus), pink stars (P. brevispinus), Mottled stars (Evasterias toschelii) and several others are also being affected.

Some experts fear that if too many sea stars die off, the population of mussels on which they feed may go unchecked and if they proliferate they could ruin areas of kelp forests that hide small fish from predators and help protect coastal areas from sea surge and storm flooding.

At the University of California, Santa Cruz, the Pacific Rocky Intertidal Monitoring Program is tracking the disease through an interactive map.

The underlying causes of the disease are not known.

Vancouver Aquarium is asking divers in the area who may have seen signs of the disease to help by uploading their observations to its website.

Why not take out a subscription to Practical Fishkeeping magazine? See our latest subscription offer.

Don't forget that PFK is now available to download on the iPad.