EUREKA, Calif. – Droves of baby starfish are returning to Oregon and Northern California’s shores after a wasting disease decimated whole populations of the creatures over the past two years along the West Coast.
Data collected by Oregon State University researchers shows an unprecedented number of baby starfish, or sea stars, survived the summer and winter of 2015, the Eureka Times Standard reported.
“When we looked at the settlement of the larval sea stars on rocks in 2014 during the epidemic, it was the same or maybe even a bit lower than previous years,” said Oregon State University marine biology professor Bruce Menge. “But a few months later, the number of juveniles was off the charts — higher than we’d ever seen — as much as 300 times normal.”
A similar increase was found north of Trinidad, Calif. A baby starfish boom also was noted in the summer of 2014 near Santa Cruz.
A virus killed millions of starfish on the Pacific Coast from Southern California to Alaska by causing them to lose their limbs and eventually disintegrate into slime and piles of tiny bones. The cause of the massive outbreak remains unclear.