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Sea star die-off reaches Florence

Posted: Tuesday, Jul 15th, 2014

Evidence of Sea Star Wasting Syndrome was recently discovered at beaches near Florence, including at Heceta Head viewpoint.

Sea stars, commonly referred to as starfish, have been dying off in alarming numbers along the entire West Coast, from Baja, Mexico, to Alaska. According to reports from the Seattle Aquarium, some parts of Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands have seen population declines of up to 80 percent.

On the Oregon coast, according to CoastWatch Volunteer Coordinator Fawn Custer, “Last December, we had less than 1 percent of sea star wasting. By May 1, more than 5 percent of sea stars were affected. Now, I would say, in some areas, it is up to 90 percent.”

CoastWatch is an organization that monitors the entire Oregon coast via a network of volunteers. Each volunteer adopts one mile of coastline to walk and observe.

“The three things the CoastWatch volunteers are told to look for,” Custer said, “are tsunami debris, sea star conditions and marine mammals.

“If you go down to the beaches, what you are not seeing is sea stars. In April and May, we were seeing a lot of the disease. Starting in June, we were just not seeing the sea stars we normally see.”

For the complete article see the 07-16-2014 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 07-16-2014 paper.

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