Over the weekend volunteer citizen science coordinator Helle Andersen led not one, but two, sea star surveys at Freshwater Bay County park. With the extreme low tides, citizen science volunteers looked successfully for sea stars on Saturday. Helle went out again on Sunday with Melissa Miner to count the official study plot as part of the ongoing Multi-Agency Rocky Intertidal Network (MARINe) monitoring.
The Saturday walking survey saw 19 Ochre stars, 22 blood stars, 20 six-armed, 1 mottled sea star. The group also found 14 rainbow and 4 leather stars. Only one leather star had evidence of sea star wasting disease.
Sea star wasting disease has ravaged the west coast sea star population, first causing lesions, then proceeding to tissue decay and eventually death. While evidence of the disease, first noted in 2014, persists to today, the focus of field research has turned to monitoring juvenile stars, to help determine if the next generations of species are impacted by the densovirus thought to be associated with the disease. For more information on sea star wasting and its impacts, visit seastarwasting.org