Wednesday, 26 July 2017

WW: Mottled starfish

(Evasterias troscheli. These were among the worst-hit in the recent virus strike that decimated starfish here on the North Coast. Thus I was pleasantly surprised to find this beach littered with them on a recent minus tide. All were small – hand-size, like this one – and many were deformed or missing rays. Whether any survive remains to be seen. The virus, which is believed to have been triggered and intensified by the rising water temperatures, has wiped out the once-ubiquitous sunflower star [Pycnopodia helianthoides], which preyed on this and the leather star. Some researchers are now using the word "extinct" to describe formerly robust Pycnopodia populations here.)

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