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Mystery behind starfish deaths revealed

Mystery behind starfish deaths revealed

NEW YORK: Scientists identified a dangerous virus that case the death of strafish in Pacific coast of America in almost a year the virus has been identified by SSaDV .
Scientists who were investigating the massive die-off of starfish in the past year ruled out specific bacteria, protozoa and fungi as possible culprits behind this wasting disease. It has killed more than 20 species of star fish, also called sea stars. It causes white lesions to appear on the body of the animal first. Gradually, its body sags and then ruptures, spilling out its internal organs.
Ian Hewson, leader of the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and aCornell University biological oceanographer and microbial ecologist, says that the disease causes the starfish to just fall apart into a pile of goo at the bottom of the seafloor.
SSaDV is a parvovirus, which is a tiny form of virus that can cause sickness in animals and humans. Researchers detected SSaDV in older starfish samples, which are actually museum specimens, from 1942, 1980, 1987, and 1991. They found that the virus may have been present for a long time, but at very low levels. Some kind of viral mutation, environmental trigger or starfish overpopulation or any other factor turned it into the large-scale threat that it is now.
SSaDV has affected iconic starfish species like ‘ochre star’ and ‘sunflower star’. Many populations of sea stars from southern Alaska to Baja California have been wiped away due to the virus. This large-scale wipeout is expected to cause long-term ecological repercussions on coastal habitats because sea stars are voracious predators and play an instrumental role in regulating the ecology on the sea floor.