Reuters - Video

Edition: US | UK | IN | CN | JP

video World News

Massive die-off of North American starfish

Tuesday, November 18, 2014 - 01:18

Scientists identify a deadly virus that has wiped out tens of thousands of starfish along North America's Pacific coast. Tara Cleary reports.

▲ Hide Transcript

View Transcript

This is one of tens of thousands of starfish dying along North America's Pacific coast. And Cornell University's Ian Hewson says scientists have now discovered the culprit is a deadly virus. SOUNDBITE: Ian Hewson, Microbial Ecologist and Associate professor, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University, saying (English): "It has basically decimated populations of sea stars. There used to be thousands and thousands of them, in small bays and inlets on the west coast and those have pretty much disappeared over the last year." More than 20 species of starfish, also called sea stars, are affected. And lesions are the first visible symptom of the killer virus, called Sea Star Associated Densovirus. SOUNDBITE: Ian Hewson, Microbial Ecologist and Associate professor, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University, saying (English): "The animals start to become lethargic and then they basically fall apart into a pile of goo on the bottom of the sea floor." Hewson says even though there are billions of viruses in the ocean, they usually don't affect animals. So why the virus is attacking starfish is still a mystery. Hewson says scientists suspect a combination of overpopulation, viral mutation, environmental trigger or another factor. The loss of so many starfish threatens to disrupt coastal ecosystems and researchers hope they can soon find a solution to the problem.

Press CTRL+C (Windows), CMD+C (Mac), or long-press the URL below on your mobile device to copy the code

Massive die-off of North American starfish

Tuesday, November 18, 2014 - 01:18