On another mostly gray, rainy day, following a stormy night, here’s a view that’s bright in two ways: Colorful undersea creatures recorded by “Diver Laura” James in the area known as the “junkyard” – and as you’ll see if you watch it, she found some sea stars:
We saw numerous young sunflower stars in the shallows, far more than I was expecting. There was a healthy medium-sized one in the 40’ depth range as well, so this is a change for the positive. Sunflower stars have been all but extirpated at many of our regular dive sites. It is still winter underwater, so we will have to wait until fall to see the real impact (how many babies show up and how many survive) The majority of the sea stars that were lost in the wasting disease are the types that spawn in the spring to mid summer. The babies will then be in the larval stage and float around in the current before they land and start growing. Baby sunflower stars start with 5 arms and then start growing pairs of additional arms, which is why you see uneven arms in the videos. That isn’t because they’ve lost limbs, it means they are growing :)
Many of the stars in the video other than the young sunflower stars and the mottled stars (there were a few) were species that were not as impacted by the wasting disease, such as Leather stars, so it isn’t a surprise to find them there. We did not see any sand stars, pink spiny stars, pisaster (ochre stars) or morning sun stars, but I’m crossing my fingers come spring/summer.