Saturday November 22, 2014
Sea Star Virus Identified
In 2013, divers and biologists on the Pacific Northwest began to notice something was happening to sea stars. also known as starfish. They were wasting away, losing limbs, and just dissolving into the ocean, in massive numbers. It was a catastrophe for the population that affected nearly two dozen species. Now, a group including Dr. Martin Haulena, the Head Veterinarian at the Vancouver Aquarium, has identified a virus that seems to have caused the outbreak, but that discovery has only deepened the mystery. The virus apparently has been present in the environment for at least seventy years, and so understanding what has changed to transform it into a devastating killer will be the next great challenge for researchers.