Warm waters and infectious disease have been identified as the cause of the death of a starfish on the Pacific coast, says the newly published study.
The Sunflower Sea Stars are among the world's largest starfish and come in a variety of bright colors, including purple and orange. Some of them grow more than one meter and are so fast "literally cross the coast," says Joseph Haidos, senior author of the study.
"But when this disease occurs, it's like a zombie apocalypse," said Gaydos, who is with the University of California at University of California, Davis.
"There may be 24 weapons and suddenly move around, and the hands are just falling. And suddenly, the whole body seems to melt."
So, what was once a "great, beautiful starfish", and weigh about five kilograms resembles a bunch of calcified parts in a few days, he said.
"It's really an ugly and fast-paced disease for these sunflower starfish stars."
In 2013, scientists began to notice that populations of the species fell between 80 and 100 per cent in the deep and shallow waters of Alaska and BC. right to California. Information about the population was collected from divers and deep tracks.
Sunflower sea stars are found in the waters from hundreds of meters to only three meters.
Diego Montesino-Latorre, a study co-author, and also from the University of California, Davis, said the scientists found a connection between rising water temperatures and seeing lesser sea stars.
Geodos said the rise in water temperature is not the same in all areas.
The oceans are not "as tubs" with consistent temperatures, he said, adding that some places in California have seen an increase of about 4 degrees, while places in Washington have seen an increase of 2.5 degrees Celsius.
One theory suggested by scientists is that temperature rises makes marine stars more susceptible to the disease that has already been present, especially since marine stars do not have complex immune systems, he said.
Gaydos said that death is a wake-up call.
"It's hard to keep an eye on what's happening in the ocean, but we need to pay attention, because it happened for a very short period of time," he said. "To have a complete look almost disappearing, it's not good."
Hina Alam, a Canadian press
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