Expert: Disease outbreak on US West Coast is largest ever seen in any population of animals — Tens of millions dead — Official: Gov’t needs to declare emergency before extinction occurs — Many scientists believed radiation from Fukushima to blame (VIDEO)
Published: March 14th, 2015 at 6:58 am ET
McClatchy, Mar 13, 2015 (emphasis added): With millions of starfish dying all along the West Coast [and] disintegrating into mush [Congressman Denny Heck wants NOAA] to declare “sea star wasting syndrome” an emergency before the starfish becomes extinct.
National Geographic, Jan 23, 2015: [It’s killed] tens of millions of sea stars.
Newport Beach official Michelle Clemente: “All of our area’s sea stars have disintegrated”
Russian gov’t news service (Sputnik), Mar 12, 2015: Many researchers initially believed radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster could be at the heart of the disease… Dr. Peter Raimondi of the University of California at Santa Cruz [believed] the power plant contaminated the water, propagating the disease which the simple immune system of the starfish would not be able to fight off… “One of the byproducts is obviously nuclear radiation discharge…” he added. Today, scientists are less convinced that Fukushima is to blame, citing the fact that  awareness of the disease predates the disaster,  the die-offs are observable on both US coasts, and  other marine life doesn’t appear to be affected.
 Is it a fact this disease predates the 2011 arrival of the Fukushima plume on the West Coast?
Melissa Miner, researcher who works for Dr. Raimondi (at 18:30): “The Olympic coast was the first place, in June 2013, where we saw the disease.”
Miner (at 4:45): “This is very different from prior events…It’s not associated w/ warm water … Populations really [got] hit hard over the winter, this has never happened… The other big difference… is the geographic extent is much, much larger than we’ve ever seen.”
 Is it a fact the die-offs are observable on both US coasts?
Miner (50:45 in): “I think it was just a few-month epidemic on the East Coast of the US… My feeling, because we have not heard a lot about it, is that it sort of disappeared. It just lasted a few months and then was gone.”
 Is it a fact other marine life doesn’t appear to be affected?
“Researchers are now keeping an eye on other echinoderms, such as sea urchins and sea cucumbers. Wasting has been observed in those animals… ‘We’re seeing urchins in southern California with lesions in areas where stars were dying’ [said Miner].” -Source
Miner (43:15 in): “People are really watching closely [if] it will spread… We’ve had isolated observations of sick urchins and sea cucumbers w/ lesions and other odd looking things.”
What about the reported surge in baby sea stars? “‘It’s not a coast-wide phenomenon at all,’ said Miner… as few as four of 70 long-term sites [have] greater than normal numbers… ‘I was trying really hard to find juveniles and I couldn’t find any,’ said [Chrissy McLean].” -Source
What about reports that wasting mystery is solved? “No one knows what might have triggered such widespread wasting, although scientists [published a paper identifying] densovirus… rather than environmental pollutants, such as the oft-suggested [Fukushima] radiation… They found the virus in a Connecticut aquarium where mass die-offs had not been observed, as well as in preserved sea stars from 1942… Miner, who is one of the paper’s authors [said] “It’s likely that other environmental factors have pushed stars to the limit” -Source
View Miner’s presentation here