Science Daily: Why Are Sea Stars Dying from New Jersey to Maine? Divers Asked to Report Large Groupings of Starfish

A healthy starfish from a tank at the URI Bay Campus.
Photo by Caitlin DelSesto

When University of Rhode Island graduate student Caitlin DelSesto collected starfish in Narragansett Bay for an undergraduate research project in 2011, she was surprised to watch as the animals appeared to melt and die in her tank within a week. After bringing it to the attention of URI Professor Marta Gomez-Chiarri, she learned it was among the first observations of a new disease that is now affecting starfish — also called sea stars — from New Jersey to Maine.

Thanks to a grant from the Rhode Island Science and Technology Advisory Council, the URI researchers are collaborating with scientists at Brown University and Roger Williams University to try to identify the cause of the disease.

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