It may feel like it’s a constant stream of bad news for the environment, so brace yourself for something good. A few years ago, it seemed as though we may completely lose sea stars after a mysterious wasting syndrome rapidly killed millions of the creatures from Canada to Mexico. But this year, researchers say that starfish are making a massive comeback.
Sea Star Wasting Syndrome, which is linked to warming waters, hit the West Coast from 2013 to 2014, causing starfish to sort of “melt,” dropping limbs, deflating and wasting away. But where sea stars had practically vanished in some areas, they can be seen popping up again. “They are coming back, big time,” said Darryl Deleske, a researcher for the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium.
These types of die-offs have happened every decade since the 1970s, but never on the scale of 2013. But lately, places that were completely devoid of starfish are filling up with them once again. Sadly, it isn’t time to celebrate, yet. While populations seem to be rebounding, the disease hasn’t completely disappeared. It appears to be active in Washington and has never completely stopped in California or Oregon. Still, experts are hopeful that future generations of sea stars will be more resilient to the disease.