Sea-star deaths: New research points to not-new virus

(File photo courtesy Laura James)
Thanks to “Diver Laura” James, who long has worked on the sea-star die-off mystery as a “citizen scientist,” for the tip on this: New scientific research says a virus is the likely culprit in the deaths of so many of what are commonly known as starfish. The Seattle Times (WSB partner) published a report this afternoon, pointing to the research paper itself (read it here), which concludes, “Based on our observations, the densovirus, SSaDV, is the most likely virus involved in this disease.” However, the researchers note, this isn’t a new virus, so they still don’t have the big picture of what’s happening and what it might lead to.

P.S. It’s been a year since Diver Laura first pointed out die-off evidence on West Seattle shores/in West Seattle waters, and she’s continuing to follow up on what’s happening now.

2 Replies to "Sea-star deaths: New research points to not-new virus"

  • Lamont November 17, 2014 (3:35 pm)

    One thing that they note in the paper is that the virus has been found in the plankton in the water, has been found in sediment samples and has been found in sea urchins, sand dollars and brittle stars. This explains how it spread and why it seems like we only see a few baby sea stars show up every now and then and then they all get sick again and die. There hasn’t been any significant recovery and the virus reservoir seems to reinfect any larval sea stars which try to reestablish themselves.

  • Heather November 17, 2014 (9:29 pm)

    But the range is bigger than ever recorded – the entire west coast up to Vancouver. Sea urchin populations have been increasing and they “hitch a ride” on the hulls of ships. So urchins can carry the virus, unchecked, from one zone to another then be eaten by a their natural predator, a starfish, who then becomes infected.

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