Up and down the west coast, sea stars are disappearing. The phenomenon has been called sea star wasting syndrome, and we still don't know a lot about it.
From USA Today:
"Something is killing starfish up and down the West Coast and no one knows what.
A mysterious illness that first appeared in June in Washington state has now spread from Sitka, Alaska, to San Diego. Starfish first waste away and then "turn into goo," divers say. Whatever is causing it can spread with astonishing speed — a healthy group of starfish can die in just 24 hours.
"It's widespread, it's very virulent and it's unlike anything we've seen in the past," said Pete Raimondi, a marine ecologist at the University of California-Santa Cruz who is one of the lead researchers in an international effort to track the outbreak.
The ailment seems to hit starfish the hardest, with smaller numbers of sea urchins and sea cucumbers reported falling to it. No one knows what percentage of the West Coast's starfish are affected but in some areas they've been wiped out."
UC Santa Cruz has been working hard on this issue for several months. They're also set up a page for more information:
They've also created a map to record observations:
You can tweet your photos (#sickstarfish) of starfish and they will be reviewed and added to the map. We're planning on doing some ROVing in Monterey Bay to contribute to the citizen science portion of the study. More on that soon!
Let me know if you need help planning/organizing, etc. I'll see if I can get some interest out here in the valley as well.