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Once popular sea stars disappear due to hot water and disease

VANCOUVER – A new published study says the combination of hot water and infectious diseases has been identified as the cause of the dying of sunflower starfish populations along the Pacific coast.

Study co-author Dr Harvell, professor at Cornell University for Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, says the heat wave in oceans caused by global warming makes the marine star spending illness worse and more quickly kills the star.

Scientists have noted that in the three years since 2013, populations of this species have declined between 80 and 100 per cent in deep and shallow waters from Alaska and British Columbia to California.

The study says a sunflower starfish is the size of the lid of a mine with a huge appetite that indexes through the floor of the sea as a robotic vacuum cleaner, eating everything on its way.

Joseph Gaidos, with the University of California at SeaDox, Davis, says sunflower marine stars are important because they keep sea urchins under control.

Geodos, a senior author of the study, says that without sun-naked stars, uchkin populations are spreading and endangering forests and biodiversity.

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