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diverlaura27 karma

Other than the entertaining antics of other divers, I've been followed by octopus for whole dives, had assorted gear stolen by them and been adopted by a Wolf eel. I've dove on deep shipwrecks with fish that are 3 times as big as their shallow counterparts.... We've seen wolf eels hatching and thousands of baby octopus creating a constellation of life in the water column, only to be instantly consumed by a passing school of hungry herring.

diverlaura20 karma

Right now we need people to get out to their shorelines and monitor the seastars.. Not just here in the US, but around the world. the most useful way to the scientists studying the event is use MARINe network's reporting form, http://data.piscoweb.org/marine1/seastardisease.html

A very simple way to get involved (and more of a general way to track whats going on so that the scientists know where to look) is to go to your local beach and look for starfish, when you find one (sick or healthy) take a picture of it with instagram and hashtag #sickstarfish it will then show up on our map www.sickstarfish.com

In both cases we want reports even if all your starfish are healthy, because that will give the scientists baseline data and we can then see if the disease spreads to other regions, and can look to see if it possibly travelled via ocean currents or container ships or ????

diverlaura17 karma

the idea of an algal bloom has not been ruled out, but so far this acts more like a pathogen. I'm currently looking at data of shellfish bed closures and comparing it to what we can see regarding the spread of the disease in Puget Sound but am not far enough along to see any correlation.

diverlaura16 karma

Researchers from the Vancouver Aquarium, University of Washington, Friday Harbor Labs, University of Santa Cruz (to name a few off top of my head) are now using very similar if not same protocol for their reporting, sharing information, and are communicating in long, robust, collaborative email threads (in which they are also including us citizen scientists).

diverlaura16 karma

From the press release for the Monterey event: (Puget Sound varies a bit in species)

In nearly all subtidal wasting events documented during 2013, the sunflower star, Pycnopodia helianthoides is the first species to succumb to the disease. Other species affected (listed roughly in order of when signs of wasting first appear) include: Orthasterias koehleri (rainbow star), Pisaster brevispinus (giant pink star), Pisaster giganteus (giant star), Evasterias troschelii (mottled star), Pisaster ochraceus (ochre star), Solaster stimpsoni and dawsoni (sun stars), Dermasterias imbricata (leather star), Mediaster aequalis (vermilion star), Leptasterias spp (six-armed star), and Patiria miniata(bat star).