by Chris Mah / via Deep Sea News / December 30, 2013 /
This post is authored by Chris Mah, a Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History researcher. Chris is one of the world’s leading experts on starfish and echinoderms in general. He created and writes for Echinoblog, a one stop reading place for everything echinoderm. You can find him at Twitter @echinoblog.
I broke the story about a mass sunflower starfish (Pycnopodia helianthoides) die-off in British Columbia. This developed into further accounts of Starfish Wasting ‘disease’ which is now recognized as “Starfish Wasting Syndrome” (because the nature of the causative agent is unknown) and since been reported from California and now Washington state.
Some have become concerned that there is a direct influence from Fukushima. Much of this seems unlikely. Deep-Sea News (among many other sources) have presented excellent reviews of data that can help the rational person make sense from some of the confusing deluge of misinformation.
- Starfish Wasting Disease/Syndrome (SWD/SWS) pre-Dates Fukushima by 3 to 15 years. This is probably the most self-evident of reasons. One of the earliest accounts of starfish wasting disease was recorded from Southern California (Channel Islands) in 1997 (pdf). The account of SWS in British Columbia was first documented by Bates et al. in 2009, and their data was collected in 2008. Fukushima? March 2011.
- Starfish Wasting Syndrome Occurs on the East Coast as well as the Pacific. Many of the accounts alleging a Fukushima connection to Starfish Wasting Syndrome forget that there are also accounts of SWS on the east coast of the United States affecting the asteriid Asterias rubens. There is no evidence (or apparent mechanism) for Fukushima radiation to have reached the east coast and therefore the Fukushima idea is again not supported.
- No other life in these regions seems to have been affected. If we watch the original British Columbia Pycnopodia die-off videos, and the later Washington state die-off vidoes, one cannot help but notice that other than the starfish, EVERYTHING else remains alive. Fish. Seaweed, encrusting animals. etc.