Call for Volunteers to help Monitor Sea Star Wasting Syndrome
Citizen Scientists and Citizen Scientist wanna be’s are invited to an information session on the latest news surrounding what’s been called the biggest “Starfish Wasting” episode off the west coast in a very long time.
Sea stars along much of the Pacific coast of North America are experiencing a mass die-off called sea star wasting syndrome. Although similar events have occurred previously, a mortality event of what we’re seeing today, over such a huge area, has never been documented. Field surveys are being done by the Multi-Agency Rocky Intertidal Network (MARINe) at long-term monitoring sites along the entire west coast. Now you can help here in Oregon.
Melissa Miner, Research Associate at UC Santa Cruz, will be at the Hatfield Marine Science Center to tell us about the sea star wasting syndrome and monitoring procedures.
Monitoring for Sea Star Wasting Syndrome along the Oregon Coast
Sea star wasting syndrome is a general description of a set of symptoms that are found in many species of sea stars. Lesions appear in the outer fleshy area. Typically, these lesions expand, leading to arm loss and eventual death, sometimes just after a few days. Widespread observations of sea stars with signs of wasting syndrome have been made by the MARINe group (Multi-Agency Rocky Intertidal Network, www.PacificRockyIntertidal.org) and others, at sites ranging from Alaska to southern California, and indicate that we are in the middle of a major sea-star disease event.
Because wasting syndrome can lead to rapid declines in sea star numbers, it is essential that we survey as many areas as possible prior to or during the wasting event. These “pre-decline” surveys will allow us to estimate impacts of wasting syndrome on sea star populations, and document recovery over time. To more effectively survey the vast amount of unsampled coastline in OR, we are enlisting the help of established citizen science programs. Observations of sea star wasting disease from citizen scientists will be utilized in two ways: 1) they will be displayed on the MARINe Sea Star Wasting Syndrome Map (www.SeaStarWasting.org), 2) sea star population data collected using MARINe sampling methods will be incorporated into our database, along with other long-term, west coast-wide monitoring data. The methods used for counting and measuring sea stars and assessing condition in terms of wasting disease are relatively simple, but in order to ensure repeatability of sampling effort within a group and standardize methods among groups, some initial training will be required.
All are invited to attend a two-hour informational session on Tuesday, April 8th from 2 pm to 4 pm in the Hennings Auditorium at the Hatfield Marine Science Center , 2030 SE Marine Science Drive, Newport OR 97365.
For questions contact: Melissa Miner, Research Associate UC Santa Cruz, Multi-Agency Rocky Intertidal Network (MARINe), Database Manager and WA Regional coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org; (831) 431-3866 or (360) 756-6107 More information is available at http://www.pacificrockyintertidal.org and http://www.marine