March 25, 2014

Professor Studies Disappearing Sea Stars

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Since July of last year, sea stars across the East and West Coast have been dying by the hundreds of thousands, according to Prof. Ian Hewson, microbiology. As a result he is investigating whether a water-borne microorganism is behind what has now been coined “sea star wasting disease.”

Commonly known as starfish, different species of sea stars are part of the class Asteroidia. Hewson said the most diverse and abundant populations of sea stars are found along the Pacific Coast of the United States. According to Hewson, researchers realized that sea stars were dying beginning in the summer of 2013, when lesions appeared on sea stars at roughly the same time in different coastal area of the country, from Southern California to Alaska.

Courtesy of Prof. Ian HewsonSickly stars | Sea stars across the Pacific coast of the United States have been dying of “sea star wasting disease,” which causes the lesions shown above, according to Prof. Ian Hewson, microbiology. Hewson is investigating the causes of the disease.