Tuesday, November 18, 2014

VIRUS CAUSED SEA STAR DEATHS



"This very high number of sea stars in the Pacific Northwest leading up to this disease epidemic probably is what exacerbated the virus and made the switch between something relatively benign into something that was totally virulent," Hewson said.

A Vancouver Sun article reports that scientists have isolated the cause of the massive die-off of sea stars in the Pacific Northwest. They are reporting an explosion in sea star numbers prior to the virus outbreak, which is commonly seen as a means of keeping populations in check.

The article pointed out an interesting observation of how one action can affect another. The rise in the number of sea stars, led to a decline in the number of sea urchins (a delicacy for sea stars). The virus greatly reduced the number of sea stars which has resulted in a huge increase of sea urchins, who incidentally have an impact on giant kelp, which is their delicacy.

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