More sea star species dying off

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by GARY CHITTIM / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @gchittimK5

KING5.com

Posted on December 2, 2013 at 8:17 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 3 at 12:17 PM

SEATTLE -- A respected sea star expert released a report showing a deadly disorder has spread to more species.

Neil McDaniel put together a overview of the so-called wasting syndrome which found it has spread from a relatively confined population in Howe Sound in British Columbia to up and down the entire West Coast, from California to Alaska.

The report also expands two species to five and there may be more.

Seattle Aquarium Veterinarian Lesanna Lahner said the findings show the problem is expanding across sea star species. The Aquarium uses sea water from Puget Sound in its exhibits and several of its sea stars have died of the disorder.

Scientists still don’t know how to treat or prevent wasting disorder but say they are narrowing in on a cause.  They are ruling out some theories like radiation from Japan’s leaking Fukushima nuclear power plant. The Washington State Health Department and other agencies have tested coastal fish and found no elevated radiation levels.

It’s an important investigation because sea stars help maintain a healthy ocean eco-system by eating creatures that nothing else does.
 

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