The Seattle Aquarium has been awarded a $75,000 grant from the Boeing Company to support the aquarium’s efforts to investigative and respond to a disease that has affected millions of sea stars along the West Coast.
An outbreak of Sea Star Wasting Syndrome was first reported from Olympic National Park in the summer of 2013 and has hit the West Coast from Alaska to Mexico. The disease makes sea stars appear to “melt,” as their usually firm, meaty bodies deflate and waste away. The wildlife disease outbreak is one of the largest ever recorded in history. The cause is unknown.
In an effort to understand and respond to the outbreak, the Seattle Aquarium has been actively collaborating with a number of institutions, including the Monterey Bay Aquarium, SeaDoc Society, Cornell University, the Wildlife Conservation Society and the U.S. Geological Survey.
The aquarium said the initiative’s main goal is to investigate and determine what is causing the sea-star deaths and disseminate the findings to the scientific community, policymakers, government agencies, media and the public. The long-term goal is to inform conservation-management decisions in Puget Sound.