An epidemic that started a year ago called Sea Star Wasting Disease (SSWD) has killed thousands of Northeast Pacific Coast sea stars. The wasting disease that has affected at least 20 species of sea stars begins with tissue ulcers and eventually causes the bodies of sea stars to degrade into piles of slime. Researchers believe densovirus is responsible for SSWD. Although the virus has been present in the Pacific Ocean since at least 1942, researchers are not sure how or why the virus has suddenly bloomed causing mass killing of sea stars. Peter Raimondi, a marine ecologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who is involved in the study of the current epidemic says no environmental factors have been found to correlate with either the onset or the progression of the disease. Researchers are investigating the causes behind the SSWD outbreak and possible ways of protecting the sea stars.
Read more in Nature.