A. Forbesi, the common sea star, are dying out in New England and possibly along the east coast. Help us figure out why and how to save them!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

My A. forbesi: Observations on 6/19

The last starfish, which had previously been missing, reappeared in the tank with a detached arm and the beginnings of symptoms similar to the other A. forbesi
Several of the P. Miniata starfish-both female and male-had begun displaying symptoms similar to the sick forbesi-removed sick ones form tank
White covering developing on arms
Insides coming out of arms and from stomach
Emailed Ed Baker with picture of forbesi arms with innards coming out and asked to compare to his memory of the forbesi that died in the GSO water table last year

1 comment:

  1. First, I am thankful that there is concern out there with regard to what is happening to the Asterias populations- and that it is not limited to us. There seems to be a lot of "chatter" and ideas about what is happening to them, but very little in the way of supporting research. In the northeast, specifically in the Gulf of Maine- we have been seeing this serious decline in Asterias sp. since spring- but it has not been limited to spring, and not limited to shallow depths where increased rainfall would perhaps be a more obvious cause of any issues. While we do not discount the role of such input in these health issues, not only are we seeing a significant loss of starfish- we are now seeing this occurring with other echinoderms. Reports of this have been as far north as Bar Harbor, ME- and down to Massachusettes. The reports are all the same- sea stars (Asterias sp.)- regardless of collection depth- showing signs of wasting disease (white lesions, ultimate disintegration of structure and release of arms, and death). The specific cause of such disease is also in debate. Most people are agreed that sustained warming trends are at least partially to blame, and from such issues- increased bacteria. There has been at least some mention of Vibrio sp. being responsible for this wasting disease- although that has yet to be confirmed. Other bacteria are also being blamed, but I am highly suspicious that it is just one thing- I think it is a combination of factors. Sea stars affected with this disease shown signs of improvement- or at the very least- a slower progression of these issues when their water temperature is significantly decreased. All infected animals have still died, however, as seen at our facility- even when other stress factors are reduced and affected specimens are quarantined from unaffected specimens. Unaffected specimens, in an open water system- have all ultimately been affected and also expired- leading us to support that something is in the water causing this issue- and that it is not purely environmental.