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Sea stars in Southern California are dying in droves from mysterious disease

Sea star wasting disease

Jed Kim

A healthy sea star clings to the intertidal zone of Crystal Cove State Park.

Sea star wasting disease

Jed Kim

Few sea stars remain at tide pools in Crystal Cove State Park in Laguna Beach. The site recently had more than a hundred sea stars, but most have been killed by wasting disease.

Sea Star Wasting disease Faye Creedon

Jed Kim

Faye Creedon, an employee of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, measures marine organisms in the intertidal zone of Crystal Cove State Park in Laguna Beach.

Sea star wasting disease Eric Fan

Jed Kim

Eric Fan, a graduate student at CSU Fullerton, counts mussels at Crystal Cove State Park in Laguna Beach.

Sea Star wasting disease Jayson Smith

Jed Kim

Jayson Smith is an assistant professor at Cal Poly Pomona. He is a principle investigator on a long-running project to monitor marine species at sites in Southern California.

Crystal Cove State Park

Jed Kim/KPCC

Crystal Cove State Park in Laguna Beach


A mysterious disease is wiping out populations of sea stars, also known as starfish, up and down the West Coast. It was first spotted in Washington State and Canada, and has spread to Southern California.

It's a problem we've talked about on this show before, but now KPCC's Jed Kim reports on the latest from the hunt to figure out what's causing it.


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