The intertidal region on the West coast of Vancouver Island British Columbia is a rich environment that supports a diversity of species. Sea stars are beautiful and vibrant animals that play an important role in the intertidal ecolsystem. Recently the iconic sea stars have been suffering mass mortality events all along the Northeast Pacific coast; up to 20 different species of sea stars have been afffected by sea star wasting syndrome (SSWS). The disease has recently been linked to a virus and symptoms include lesions, limb autotomy, loss of turgor, and eventually death by rapid dissue disintigration. The rapid change in the ecological make up of the intertidal could have grave reprocussions.
The goal of this project is to survey the sea star populations at four locations once a month at low tide. This will help us get an idea of the spread of the disease and the population demographics within the sites. Data will be collected on number, size, and disease progression for each sea star found in the designated area.
Our methods are based on those from the Pacific Rocky Intertidal Monitoring Lab out of UCSC, and our data will contribute to their larger project. This project is funded in part by WWF GO Wild. Check out the poster with some of our results from Summer 2015. Download the project report Sea Star Wasting Disease 2015 Report.
If you would like to volunteer with this project please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Image Credit: Kyler Vos Photography (top), Jessica Edwards (bottom)