A simplified diagram of the Sea Star Wasting Disease experiment devised at Cornell University, used to prove that a virus-sized, biologically active entity was triggering wasting symptoms in sea stars. As the sea star populations collapsed, the number of kelp-munching purple urchins—a favorite prey of sunflower stars—increased 60-fold. For more than seven years, a mysterious wasting disease has nearly killed off sea star populations around the world. A new study has revealed no one cause of the sea star wasting disease, which hit populations of the keystone predator ochre sea star particularly hard in 2014 and 2015. Now scientists believe that it may be … New Cornell-led research suggests that starfish, victims of sea star wasting disease (SSWD), may actually be in respiratory distress – literally “drowning” in their own environment – as elevated microbial activity derived from nearby organic matter and warm ocean … In the past few years, Northern California, for example, has lost 90 percent of its once-vast kelp forests. Some of these species stand … “Whereas the adult sea stars, when … SeaDoc was among dozens of collaborators that recently published a paper linking a virus to sea star wasting disease. The research, “Evidence That Microorganisms at the Animal-Water Interface Drive Sea Star Wasting Disease,” was published on January 6, 2021, in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology.. A “zombie apocalypse” has been underway beneath the waves since 2013, with sea star wasting disease (SSWD) dissolving more than 20 species of sea stars into puddles of rotting flesh on the seafloor. According to Hewson, ocean conditions lead to the production of unusual amounts of organic material, which he said prompts bacteria to thrive. A mysterious wasting disease has been devastating sea star populations around the world for several years. Smaller, juvenile sea stars, for example, can tolerate high viral loads without showing symptoms of wasting disease. While one study identified a densovirus being associated with the wasting disease in at least one sea star species, Ammann said other causes … Graph Credit: Ben Young Landis, USGS, based on Hewson and others, 2014. In changing oceans, sea stars may be 'drowning' Date: January 6, 2021 Source: Cornell University Summary: New research suggests that starfish, victims of sea star wasting disease …