Large Number of Starfish Losing Limbs, Dying Along West Coast

Monday, Nov 4, 2013  |  Updated 6:20 AM PDT
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Large Number of Starfish Losing Limbs, Dying Along West Coast

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Marine scientists are finding a large number of dead starfish along the West Coast stricken with a disease that causes the creatures to lose their arms and disintegrate.

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports that the starfish are dying from "sea star wasting disease," which has killed up to 95 percent of the animals in some tide pool populations.

Even starfish at the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary visitor center aquarium in San Francisco died from wasting disease after water was pumped in from the ocean.

Pete Raimondi, chairman of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at University of California, Santa Cruz's Long Marine Lab, says wasting disease has never been as widespread.

Sampling has found the disease in starfish from Alaska to Southern California.

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