Starfish making a comeback in California, after the mysterious syndrome millions of people killed

Starfish are making a comeback on the West Coast, four years after a mysterious syndrome killed millions of them.

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Starfish are fighting their way back to the west coast, a year after a mysterious syndrome killed millions of them.

A catastrophic number of the sea creatures were killed around 2013-2014 by Sea Star Wasting Syndrome. Starfish from British Columbia to Mexico would develop lesions and then disintegrate, run with their arms in the goo.

This pictures shows a starfish suffering from a wasting disease epidemic is shown in this handout photo courtesy of Kevin Lafferty of the United States Geological Survey, provided November 17, 2014.

(REUTERS/Kevin Lafferty/

But four years later, scientists have spotted starfish in Southern California tide pools, The Orange County Register reported.

Crystal Cove State Beach to Palos Verdes, “They come back, big time,” Darryl Deleske, aquarist for the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro, told the newspaper.

“It is a huge difference…A few years ago, you would not find. I dived all the way as far as Canada, looking specifically for starfish, and found no one,” Deleske added.


Similar die-offs of starfish on the west coast were reported in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, but the last outbreak was the largest ever recorded, according to the Register.

When the syndrome struck the Southern part of the state in December 2013, Deleske said: “you just started to see [starfish] melting everywhere. You’d see an arm here, an arm.”

But, only this month, four adult sea stars — each are approximately 7 to 8 inches long — were spotted at Crystal Cove State Park in Newport Beach.


“It is a treasure that we always hope to find,” Kaitlin Magliano, education coordinator at the Crystal Cove Conservancy, told The Orange County Register. “We lost all of them. It is good to see we have a number of survive and thrive. Maybe the next generation will be more resistance.”

Despite the recent finds, and the Sea Star Wasting Syndrome never completely disappeared in Northern and Central California, and it appeared in the Salish Sea region of Washington state, according to a report in November by the University of Santa Cruz.

Follow us

Don't be shy, get in touch. We love meeting interesting people and making new friends.

Most popular