Sea star epidemic hits Hood Canal

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by GARY CHITTIM / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @gchittimK5

KING5.com

Posted on June 18, 2014 at 6:39 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 18 at 7:10 PM

NEAR HOODSPORT, Wash. -- Diver Laura James hoped Hood Canal might be a corner of Puget Sound that would be spared from the die off of sea stars that has ravaged the entire West Coast.

She lost hope after her latest dive. The underwater walls and floor of the popular Sund Rock diving site are covered with sea stars in various stages of death.

She took me along on a dive and showed me how some of sea stars had become squishy and floppy, others were just beginning to lose limbs. Others already had and in many cases there were only mats of debris, the shadow left by sea stars that died and dissolved away.

She is documenting the so-called wasting disease that was first noticed in British Columbia last year but has now shown up in the Pacific all the way from Alaska to Southern California.

James is not easy to keep up with underwater. She said she is trying to stay ahead of the die off, but more often than not ends up chasing it from one corner of the sound to another.  Her pictures are compelling and are uploaded for scientists across the country to study and document.

As a Puget Sound diver for 24 years, she is taking this problem personally.
 

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