Starfish Return – Warmer Temperatures To Blame?

Remember this headline:

Warming Temperatures Are Killing Millions of Starfish

Well …. now there is a new one … and it all happened during an El Nino when ocean temperatures were really high.

Starfish babies return in droves to Oregon and California after massive die-off

Droves of baby starfish are returning to Oregon and Northern California’s shores after a wasting disease decimated whole populations of the creatures over the past two years along the West Coast.

Data collected by Oregon State University researchers shows an unprecedented number of baby starfish, or sea stars, survived the summer and winter of 2015, the Eureka Times Standard reported Saturday.

“When we looked at the settlement of the larval sea stars on rocks in 2014 during the epidemic, it was the same or maybe even a bit lower than previous years,” Oregon State University marine biology professor Bruce Menge said in a statement.

“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.”

The cause of the massive outbreak remains unclear. Some have hypothesized it to be abnormally warm waters in the Pacific Ocean, which have wreaked havoc on marine ecosystems for the past two years.

Humboldt State University Marine Lab Director Brian Tissot disagrees with that hypothesis since the virus spread during colder months and didn’t expand as much during the abnormally warm 2015.

“There is no clear environmental cue,”

 

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