‘Best day ever.’ Scientist celebrates recovering sea stars

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Science Credit: Photo courtesy of Drew Harvell An ochre sea star near the San Juan Islands. Earlier this week, a scientist in the San Juan Islands tweeted: “Best day ever." What triggered her joy? Sea stars. Hundreds of healthy, colorful sea stars. A few years ago, a mysterious disease started killing multiple species of sea stars along the West Coast at devastating rates. This was concerning to scientists because sea stars are voracious predators — they are able to control populations of other sea creatures like mussels, clams and urchins. But some sea stars in the Pacific Northwest appear to be recovering. A species known as ochre sea stars, the orange and purple ones you might have spotted at low tide, seem to be stabilizing around the San Juan Islands. Drew Harvell, an ecology professor at Cornell University and an affiliate professor at the University of Washington, said they’re finding stable populations at multiple sites being monitored in that area. “And virtually all of the stars, except for maybe one or two, were healthy. So that was really good news,” she said. What really made Harvell happy was what she found at a site on Orcas Island that was […]

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