Sea Star Wasting Disease | SSWD
The stars are back!
At most of the sites our lab monitors along the Oregon Coast – on Cape Perpetua, Cape Foulweather and Cape Blanco – sea star density is actually higher now than it was before sea star wasting disease hit. But if you go out on the intertidal rocks, you probably won’t see many unless you know where to look. The high population numbers are actually a result of record number of baby sea stars in the intertidal. Depending on site, density of sea star recruits (those smaller than about the size of a penny) is between about 5 and 200 times higher than it was in 2014. Good news for potential sea star recovery! However, we still aren’t sure what is driving this pattern, and recruitment is patchy across sites. We also don’t know how these new recruits will fare as they mature in the context of sea star wasting. Currently, symptoms of wasting are still present at all of our sites but at low percentages (mostly below 10%). We will keep tracking population and disease dynamics throughout the winter and hopefully follow the cohort of new recruits as they mature.