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Scientists solve the mystery of B.C.’s dissolving starfish

Starfish had been dying by the millions of a virus that has now been identified


 
Shot in Yellow Point, which is about a 30 minute drive south of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, BC. Photo shows a sick purple ochre sea star which has dropped one of its arms.

Shot in Yellow Point, which is about a 30 minute drive south of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, BC. Photo shows a sick purple ochre sea star which has dropped one of its arms.

VANCOUVER – Scientists have cracked the mystery of what has killed millions of sea stars in waters off the Pacific coast, from British Columbia to Mexico.

Microbiology professor Ian Hewison of Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., says the culprit is densovirus, commonly found in invertebrates.

He says the virus literally made sea stars dissolve within two to 10 days after infection, leaving them in a pile of goo on the ocean floor.

Related reading: B.C.’s starfish are dissolving into goo, and no one knows why

Hewison, who is the lead author of a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, says samples taken from sea stars preserved in museums on the West Coast showed the virus existed as far back as 1942.

He says the wasting disease hit at a time when the number of sea stars inexplicably exploded, with divers reporting mountains of the creatures in the ocean, suggesting such close contact led the virus to spread rapidly.

Over the past 18 months, the virus has also sickened sea stars at aquariums in Vancouver and Seattle, from water piped in from the ocean.


 
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Scientists solve the mystery of B.C.’s dissolving starfish

  1. You may recall, that when this story first came out, that GLOBAL WARMING (or climate change, given that there hasn’t really been any warming in a while) was the immediate cause jumped upon by the usual suspects. Further, you may recall that I was being me…and said that global warming was not the cause, and that it was some type of virus or bacteria, or other pathogen that was causing it.

    This is just one of my “I TOLD YOU SO” moments to the “global warming is to blame for everything” crowd.

  2. Oh, and since I can’t remember who called me foolish for writing that the bacteria was probably something found in what the starfish feed on………

    Nya Nya.

    (hint: Starfish mainly feed on invertebrates, ie claims, mussels, etc.)

    • To which I responded, “Still don’t get why your comment was so funny, do you?”
      And apparently, you still don’t.

      And the article makes it pretty clear the disease isn’t “coming from their food source” as you claimed:
      “samples taken from sea stars preserved in museums on the West Coast showed the virus existed as far back as 1942.”
      “… the virus has also sickened sea stars at aquariums in Vancouver and Seattle, from water piped in from the ocean.”

      • Lenny….

        Unless the water is filtered and boiled, do you not think that perhaps some of these little buggers may be in the water piped in?

        You really are a dope…..

  3. Oh…found it.

    My comment was:
    “I would hope that these scientist don’t restrict their investigation to just the starfish.

    They need to look at what the starfish are eating, as any bacteria may be coming from the food source.”

    And of course, the usual suspects (lenny in this case)responded:
    “If only those scientists knew as much about biology as R J Halifax.
    You should really get in contact with them to make sure they have it covered.”

    Actually, Lenny…..if they contacted me sooner…well, you know now.

    But I responded to Lenny with:
    “Although I studied biology extensively in school, you do not need to be a biologist to use common sense. If you eat something that is carrying a pathogen….chances are, you will end up with it in your system as well.

    pretty basic really.”

    Yes, Lenny….common sense, and basic logic. No wonder you didn’t get it. But don’t worry Lenny…..some of the posters didn’t just see global warming as the cause. We had comments about radiation from fukishima..etc..etc…

    The other resident “expert” Budster wrote:
    “The government funded research project to study the effects of pollution on marine life in the Pacific Ocean was cancelled last year by Stephen “What you don’t know, can’t hurt you.” Harper. Ir was, in fact, the only federally funded research programme of its kind in all three of our oceans.”

    So, budster….I guess Harper’s not responsible after all. Methinks and apology to the PM is owed.

    Ok….gloating over.

  4. Lenny…..the article states pretty clearly what they have found.

    “Microbiology professor Ian Hewison of Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., says the culprit is densovirus, commonly found in invertebrates.”

    You see, Lenny…..people were creating theories to explain what they were observing. They now know the cause. It isn’t global warming or climate change. It is a tiny little creature that is bad for sea stars. That is why they are dying.

    Lenny continues to try and save face with this gem:

    “And the article makes it pretty clear the disease isn’t “coming from their food source” as you claimed:
    “samples taken from sea stars preserved in museums on the West Coast showed the virus existed as far back as 1942.”
    “… the virus has also sickened sea stars at aquariums in Vancouver and Seattle, from water piped in from the ocean.”

    Lenny, what do starfish eat? (here’s a hint taken from the article itself: “the culprit is densovirus, commonly found in invertebrates.”) Just in case you missed it.

    as for the aquariums, see my other comment.

    Just admit it Lenny…….it wasn’t harpers fault, or GLOBAL warming. it was a pathogen.

    It was exactly what I said it was.

  5. To recap,
    James ‘gloats’ because he claims somebody said climate change was to blame, while he said it was a virus.
    But as we can see, scientists always said they believed a virus or bacteria was involved, and they still don’t know what triggered it, environmental change including ocean acidification and warming being amongst the suspected factors.
    James ‘gloats’ because he claimed that the pathogen ‘might be coming from their food’ and thinks the scientists’ conclusion that the virus has already existed in the sea star population for at least 70 years and passes directly through the water somehow supports this claim.
    James still thinks his comment telling scientists how they should be conducting their investigation was so funny because he suggested the pathogen might be coming from their food, when the hilarity was obviously to be found in an entirely unqualified imbicile like James telling the world’s experts how to do their jobs.

    • No, Lenny…

      I was gloating because I stated the cause of the dissolving starfish while everyone else was falling over themselves by blaming global warming, Fukishima radiation, and Stephen Harper for the dissolving starfish.

      And, if according to you, an “entirely unqualified imbicile like James” actually had the answer well before these scientists you admire so much made their finding……then what does that make them?

      Just wait until the verdict on Global Warming (it’s a fraud) comes in……..then you’ll see a huge gloat-fest.

      Of course, if you live in Buffalo….you already know it’s a fraud.

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