Friday, March 17, 2023

Science Baby!

 Climate change has disrupted sea life and the ecosystem that depends on predators for balance. The warming of the west coast ocean which is VERY cold with Alaskan waters moving south by sea currents. This has contributed to a wasting disease which has decimated the 24 legged starfish. 

These starfish (officially "sea stars" now) kept the sea urchin population in balance. Without these predators sea urchins are strangling kelp forests up and down the west coast. If you don't know (and why should you) kelp forests in cold water fulfill a similar ecological nich√© as coral reefs in very warm ocean waters.

So the wide spread destruction is pretty horrible as sea urchins have explode in population by 10,000% in some areas.


Enter University of Washington (LINK). They have collected and bred disease resistant 24 legged sea stars that feast on urchins and that are immune. In breeding these naturally immune sea stars, scientists are testing if they are also disease resistant. Sea stars can only eat 1 urchin a day, but a few will release millions of larvae. Many perish, but more will live as there are sea urchins to feast on.

So, here's hoping their efforts are successful.

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