Wasted Stars

Today’s constant rain matches the feeling one has these days walking along the intertidal of the West Coast, depressing. Seastar Wasting Disease (SWD) has drastically impacted seastars recently and to observe the occurrence is ominous. Our cohort counted stars along 3 transects today at Point Caution during low tide.

 

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Point Caution is one of the few locations monitored which as of June still had fairly high numbers of stars with no signs of disease. However, today (six weeks later) was a different story. We found a fair number of stars, mainly Pisaster ochraceus, but many had small lesions and are starting to show signs of SWD. Some were more extreme cases, i.e. advanced SWD (left) or dead (right).

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To examine this locale we sampled an arm (which can regenerate) from 2 healthy stars and 2 SWD specimens. Back in the lab, we further divided those specimens to collect specific tissue types (tube feet, cecum, & epidermis) for RT qPCR technique optimization.

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While we found and sampled mostly Pisaster other species are also being impacted. Below are a few examples that we have in the lab.

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Let’s hope the RT qPCR primers work for quicker detection of SWD. IMG_6839

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