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Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Volunteers sign up for annual cleanup of ocean beaches

CONSERVATION —Washington CoastSavers has opened registration for participating in the International Coastal Cleanup, Sept. 20, 2014.

Volunteers can select from dozens of beaches to clean in Washington, from the Long Beach Peninsula to the Olympic Peninsula.

“The annual coastal cleanup is one of the most inspiring events we participate in each year,” said said Don Hoch, Washington State Parks director. “It's heartening to see hundreds of caring volunteers get out and make a real difference by cleaning up our ocean beaches for the benefit of wildlife, habitats and the citizens who enjoy visiting our beautiful Pacific coast.”

Washington CoastSavers is an alliance of partners and volunteers dedicated to keeping the state's beaches clean of marine debris. 

Visit www.coastsavers.org for information on registering for this year's coastal cleanup, including what beaches will be cleaned, where to camp and special offers through local business specifically for cleanup volunteers. 

Donations for the effort are gladly accepted.

Starfish disease found on Oregon coast

MARINE LIFE — A disease that has been killing starfish on the West Coast has been found in Oregon.

Oregon Coast Aquarium divers at the entrance to Yaquina Bay on April 27 found starfish with “sea star wasting disease” that causes their arms to fall off and turn to goo.

Divers will survey coastal waters through October to monitor the disease and perhaps help determine the cause.

Others can report sick or healthy starfish online at inaturalist.org and sickstarfish.com.

Starfish dieoff captured in videos

WILDLIFE WATCHING — The Oregonian has compiled three videos that help underscore the concern marine biologists have for the massive die-off of Pacific starfish detected in 2013.

See the story and the videos.

Widespread starfish die-off puzzles West Coast scientists

OCEANS — Marine scientists are finding a large number of dead starfish along the West Coast stricken with a disease that causes the creatures to lose their arms and disintegrate.

The Associated Press reports the starfish are dying from “sea star wasting disease,” an affliction that causes white lesions to develop, which can spread and turn the animals into “goo.” The disease has killed up to 95 percent of a particular species of sea star in some tide pool populations.

“They essentially melt in front of you,” Pete Raimondi, chairman of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at University of California, Santa Cruz’s Long Marine Lab, told The Santa Rosa Press Democrat.

Even starfish in an aquarium at the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary visitor center in San Francisco died from wasting disease after water was pumped in from the ocean in September.

Sampling has found the disease in starfish from Alaska to Southern California, according to a map on the marine lab’s website.

Raimondi says wasting disease has never been as widespread as researchers are finding now.

In 1983-84, wasting disease hit Southern California but remained localized.

The disease usually affects one species, Pisaster ochraceus, an orange and purple starfish that grows up to 20 inches wide and is a staple of West Coast tide pools.

The starfish dine on mussels, so scientists worry that a collapse in the Pisaster population will allow mussels to multiply unchecked, crowding out other species.

Steven Morgan, an environmental science professor at the Bodega Marine Laboratory at the University of California, Davis, has found emaciated sea stars on the rocks at Schoolhouse Beach north of Bodega Bay, but was unsure if wasting syndrome was the culprit.

Still, Morgan found the starfish deaths a “strange anomaly.”

“None of us had ever seen anything like this before,” he said.

New study warns of climate change impacts to oceans

ENVIRONMENT — A new study looking at the impacts of climate change on the world’s ocean systems concludes that by the year 2100, about 98 percent of the oceans will be affected by acidification, warming temperatures, low oxygen, or lack of biological productivity – and most areas will be stricken by a multitude of these stressors, according to the Columbia Basin Bulletin.

These biogeochemical changes triggered by human-generated greenhouse gas emissions will not only affect marine habitats and organisms, the researchers say, but will often co-occur in areas that are heavily used by humans.

Results of the study are being published this week in the journal PLoS Biology. It was funding by the Norwegian Research Council and Foundation through its support of the International Network for Scientific investigation of deep-sea ecosystems.

“While we estimated that 2 billion people would be impacted by these changes, the most troubling aspect of our results was that we found that many of the environmental stressors will co-occur in areas inhabited by people who can least afford it,” said Andrew Thurber, an Oregon State University oceanographer and co-author on the study.

Video: octopus has many personalities on ocean floor

WILDLIFE WATCHING — This short video shows how a mimic octopus takes on various disguises in its quest for survival deep in the ocean.  

Very cool. I especially enjo the act of perambulating along the ocean floor as if the sea creature is running on legs.

Great white shark jumps into research boat

OCEAN FISHERIES — From the wide world outdoors beat, shark researchers in South Africa didn't have to go far Tuesday to find a specimen - a 10-foot great white shark leaped into the back of their boat. And rather than a story of the big one that got away, this is a story of a big one they couldn't get rid of.

Read on for more of the report from CNN.