Thursday, June 26, 2014


While we have been bombarded with bad news concerning the situation with sea star wasting syndrome on local beaches, not to mention the West Coast from B.C. to Mexico, there is a ray of sunshine out there.
There seems to be a healthy and large population of juvenile stars of both the Purple and Mottled species (Pisaster ochraceus, Evasterias troschelii) in Puget Sound.  Usually the juveniles hide out under rocks in Summer and are not often seen, but this year they are seen in some places out in the open during the day.  During our survey at Constellation Marine Reserve in February we observed 15 juveniles in our study area in the open......none are seen there now in the Summer but they are quite common under rocks and on the underside of Moon Snail sand collars.   A block of old bricks turned up 8 small stars...of both species.  Hiding under rocks no doubt makes them much less vulnerable to the local gull population.  In Winter the gulls are not actively feeding at night and the little stars stay more out in the open.  Winter also provides cooler temperatures and no damaging UV light from the Sun.  While there have been some sightings of small stars with wasting syndrome most appear to be healthy.....hopefully they will stay that way as they increase in size and age.

Special thanks to Professor Joel Elliott of the Biology Department at the University of Puget Sound for additional information concerning sea star wasting syndrome and local populations of young stars.

Sea Star Wasting article in Seattle Times
Mottled Star on Moon Snail sand collar

Mottled Star on sand collar

Mottled Star on sand collar

Juvenile Stars on brick block

Purple and Mottled Stars (small)

Purple Stars (small)

Purple Stars with Frilled Whelks

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