Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

2/3/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (

Scientists are alarmed as starfish are essential to local marine biology

Millions and millions of starfish have been washing up dead all along the western coast of the United States. Scientists are baffled and highly worried, as the starfish are absolutely essential to the marine ecosystem.

White lesions on the arms of the sea star -- considered among the largest starfish as it can span more than a meter in diameter, are among the most common signs of distress.

White lesions on the arms of the sea star -- considered among the largest starfish as it can span more than a meter in diameter, are among the most common signs of distress.


By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (

2/3/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in Green

Keywords: Starfish, dieoffs, ecology, marine biology

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic online) - The mass deaths first became reported in June of last year. It was noted that different types of starfish were affected -- from wild ones along the coast to those in captivity.

"The two species affected most are Pisaster ochraceus (purple sea star or ochre starfish) and Pycnopodia helianthoides (sunflower sea star)," Jonathan Sleeman, director of the U.S. Geological Survey's National Wildlife Health Center wrote in December.

Light up the darkness by going here --

White lesions on the arms of the sea star -- considered among the largest starfish as it can span more than a meter in diameter, are among the most common signs of distress. The lesions spread quickly, resulting in the loss of the arm. The infection then consumes the creature's entire body in a matter of days, and it dies.

Entire populations have been wiped out in Puget Sound off the coast of Washington state, in the Salish Sea off Canada's British Columbia as well as along the coast of California. The mortality rate is estimated at a staggering 95 percent. Scientists have yet to identify the cause.

"What we currently think is likely happening is that there is a pathogen, like a parasite or a virus or a bacteria, that is infecting the sea stars and that compromises in some way their immune system," Pete Raimondi, chair of the department of ecology and evolutionary biology, at the University of California, Santa Cruz, says.

The creatures become more susceptible to bacteria, which is "causing a secondary infection that causes most of the damages that you see." A smaller outbreak also killed East Coast sea stars last year.

The previous instances were believed to be associated with warmer waters as sea stars have sensitive skin and prefer cooler water, but this was not the case in 2013. With those die-offs, the geographic span of the infections was much smaller, and far fewer sea stars were affected.

An epidemic nearly wiped out the Pisaster ochraceus from tidal pools in 1983 along the southern coast of California.

Another, smaller die-off in 1997 may have been caused by warmer waters in an El Nino year, scientists said.

Sea stars "play a key role in this ecosystem on the West Coast," Raimondi says. Sea stars eat mussels, barnacles, snails, mollusks and other smaller sea life, so their health is considered a measure of marine life on the whole in a given area.

When sea stars decline in number, "the mussel population has the potential to dramatically increase, which could significantly alter the rocky intertidal zone," Sleeman says.

Pope Francis calls for your 'prayer and action'...


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'

Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2015
That human trafficking, the modern form of slavery, may be eradicated.
Evangelization: That with a missionary spirit the Christian communities of Asia may announce the Gospel to those who are still awaiting it.


More Green

Climate change underlying cause of chaos in Syria, Prince Charles declares Watch

Image of The 67-year-old prince, accused of


In an interview, Britain's Prince Charles says that failing address climate change result in the chaos that now grips Syria, plunging Europe into a refugee crisis. The prince will be speaking at a global climate summit in Paris next week. More than 100 world ... continue reading

Doomsday for Rhinos: White Rhinos facing extinction - ONLY 3 remain on Earth Watch

Image of It's too late, barring a scientific miracle for the northern white rhinoceros, however. The final three of this breed reside at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, a preserve in Kenya.


Nola, one of four remaining northern white rhinoceros on Earth has been put to sleep. Suffering from a lengthy illness, Nola was put down at the San Diego Safari Park this past weekend. Once the three remaining northern white rhinos at an animal preserve in ... continue reading

Excited for El Nino? Don't be, here's why... Watch

Image of Although surfers have had to contend with more sharks, the surfing has been better. For the rest of So Cal, the eagerly awaited El Nino will bring a nasty surprise.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The El Nino continues to rage in the Equatorial Pacific, now reaching nearly six degrees Fahrenheit above normal. The hot blob of water is already affecting weather patterns and the Southwestern United States can expect a wet winter. The caveat of course, is that the ... continue reading

Will the 2015 Leonid meteor shower produce the storm of the century? Here's your guide to viewing Watch

Image of A picture of the 1833 Leonid meteor storm.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In one week, Earth will pass through a stream of cosmic debris that will produce the Leonids meteor shower. Here's everything you need to know about the shower and how to view it. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - The Leonid meteor shower happens every year around ... continue reading

What the heck is a cryovolcano anyway? NASA announces discovery of ice volcanoes on Pluto Watch

Image of The New Horizons image of Pluto. Far from being a boring, icy world with few features, Pluto is a surprisingly complex world full of surprises.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

What the heck is a cryovolcvano and why does Pluto appear to have them? These are questions that NASA is attempting to answer following surprising new information revealed by the New Horizons flyby mission. At least two cryovolcanoes have been spotted and NASA thinks ... continue reading

Antarctica is gaining ice, and why that doesn't mean global warming is false Watch

Image of A Snow Cat vehicle, used in an expedition to Antarctica in 1957-58. Scientists continue to study the last pristine continent on the planet, to learn what it can teach us about the rest of Earth.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

A new study from NASA concludes that Antarctic sea ice increased between 2003 to 2008, contrary to popular belief. These gains, all in East Antarctica, are expected to offset losses in West Antarctica. However, this discovery should not be taken to mean that global ... continue reading

World's rarest whale caught on camera for FIRST time ever and you won't believe your eyes! Watch

Image of The world's rarest whale was caught on camera (Salvatore Cerchio).


The world's rarest whale, which was previously believed to have completely died out, was caught on camera in Madagascar by a team of biologists. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Omura's whales are extremely rare, so rare that scientists don't know how many still ... continue reading

San Ramon, California breaks unbelievable earthquake record Watch

Image of San Ramon, California (not pictured) breaks earthquake record (AP).


Twelve small quakes have hit San Ramon, California within eight hours on Tuesday. Most were 2.0 and under and may set a record for the most earthquakes in the same area. The record sits at Alamo, which saw 351 earthquakes within a 42-day time in 1990. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading

Hurricane Patricia is now the most powerful storm ever recorded, and it's about to kill a lot of people Watch

Image of A fisherman checks his boat ahead of the arrival of Patricia.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Screaming hot sea temperatures in the equatorial Pacific have been spinning off storms all summer, sending tropical storms and small hurricanes into the Eastern Pacific. This year has seen a record number of storms. Now, a category 5 hurricane, Patricia, is about to ... continue reading

X-ray technology proves that California's forests irreparably traumatized by drought Watch

Image of Biologist Greg Asner insists that there is still hope.


Using X-ray technology, biologist Greg Asner took an expedition to see the effect the ongoing drought had upon California's forest ranges. Peering down from a plane at 6,000 feet, Asner found that things were far dire than previously predicted by the Forest ... continue reading

All Green News


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • UPDATE: Did the U.S. military actually know they were bombing the ...
  • Prayer For Courage HD Video
  • The Miracle Prayer HD Video
  • Daily Readings for Thursday, November 26, 2015
  • St. John Berchmans: Saint of the Day for Thursday, November 26, 2015
  • Bet you've never seen a space rocket do THIS!
  • Happy Thanksgiving Day: Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Daniel 6:12-28
12 These men came along in a body and found Daniel praying and pleading ... Read More

Psalm, Daniel 3:68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74
68 Bless the Lord, dew and snow-storm, praise and glorify him for ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 21:20-28
20 'When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then you must realise ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 26th, 2015 Image

St. John Berchmans
November 26: Eldest son of a shoemaker, John was born at ... Read More