Starfish Wasting Disease: Fukishima Related?

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A wasting disease that's attacking starfish from Oregon to California could be at least in part caused by nuclear pollution from the 2011 Fukishima Nuclear Power Plant disaster in Japan, said a marine ecologist involved with studying sick starfish.

Peter Raimondi of the University of California, Santa Cruz, told News1113 in Vancouver that no one knows exactly what's making the starfish's limbs decompose into a white goo, but that nuclear pollution carried across the ocean in debris from the earthquake that caused the nuclear plant meltdowns can't be ruled out as a factor.

“One of the byproducts is obviously nuclear radiation discharge. The second thing is debris, tons of debris, which has shown up especially on the North West Coast,” he told the news outlet.

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It's thought that a bacteria or a virus is attacking starfish, some of which are weakened when water temperatures are warmer than normal. But shifting combinations of factors seem to be responsible, according to UC Santa Cruz website on the subject.

The disease, which makes the starfish lose limbs before it disintegrates, first came to light in Washington, but has since spread to Alaska and California.

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Raimondi told the news outlet that any data scientists can gather from the public about the wasting disease is helpful. Sightings can be reported on the Starfish Wasting Disease tracker.

Hat tip to UnderwaterTimes.com.