I am one of the collectors at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole. Yes, we absolutely have noticed the die off since last fall. The first I noticed anything was when I collected about 100 animals from the Cape Cod Canal and they all died in a matter of days in our flow through system. We even went out and dredged in many of our more productive areas within Vineyard and Nantucket sounds. There were areas thick with crepidula and other foods, still with no signs of stars. We have noticed small stars begining to show up in the Cape Cod Canal and out in the sound about 2 months ago. Today I collected about a dozen 3" to 4" animals out in Vineyard Sound. This has created quite some talk here, especially with some of the summer courses, such as Embryology, Frontiers in Reproductions and Physiology. Our aquatic vet Amy Hancock I believe has taken cultures.
Another person who has had some experience with stars is a gentleman named Martk who runs Biomes out of RI. He has a closed system and found new stars died within a day after being put into any tanks which had previously held asterias forbesi.
I have seen Asterias vulgaris in Cape Cod Bay. Perhaps the cooler water did not have the same effects.