A large gathering of baby starfishes are finally returning to Oregon and Northern California’s shores. This happened after a wasting disease decimated the whole populations of these creatures over the past two years along the West Coast.
The University of Oregon led this study, and researchers collected the data showed an unprecedented number of baby starfish that survived the summer and winter of 2015.
Researchers looked at the settlement of the larval sea stars on rocks in 2014 during the epidemic. Oregon State University marine biology professor Bruce Menge said it was the same or maybe even a bit lower than previous years.
“But a few months later, the number of juveniles was off the charts — higher than we’d ever seen — as much as 300 times normal,” said Menge in a statement.
West Coast is the star’s coast
This increase was also found at sites just north of Trinidad, California, near Patrick’s Point State Park. There, a baby starfish boom was noted in the summer of 2014 near Santa Cruz.
A virus killed millions of starfish on the Pacific Coast from Southern California to Alaska by causing them to lose their limbs and eventually disintegrate into slime and piles of tiny bones.
Starfish babies return to Calif. coast after huge die-off: KPCC Droves of baby starfish are returning to… https://t.co/eEdPMg7gth
— OKC Breaking News (@okc_news) May 8, 2016
The cause of the massive outbreak still remains as a mystery. Some experts have hypothesized it to be abnormally warm waters in the Pacific Ocean. Which have wreaked havoc on marine ecosystems for the past two years. Also, from the Humboldt State University Marine Lab, Director Brian Tissot disagrees with that hypothesis. The virus has been spreading during colder months and didn’t expand as much during the abnormally warm 2015.
Tissot also said that there is no clear environmental cue, and he added that the deadly wasting disease has declined in intensity, but it still present on the ocean.
Many other experts have said that while it’s encouraging to see the abundance of baby starfish again, the disease, competition and environmental factors could make their survival a bit more difficult.
Source: The Province