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Western professor receives grant to study sea star deaths

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Western professor receives grant to study sea star deaths

KGMI News Reporting
By Mike Curtiss

BELLINGHAM, Wash. – Sea stars are dying off all along the west coast, and a Western Washington University professor has received a grant from the National Science Foundation to find out why.

A widespread outbreak of Sea Star Wasting Disease started appearing around late summer.

Associate biology professor Benjamin Miner says the disease quickly turns healthy colonies of sea stars into mats of bacterial ooze.

Play Benjamin Miner on disease

With the one-year research grant, Miner will be surveying about 30 marine sites in Washington State, taking samples of sea stars and sending them to a colleague at Cornell University to be analyzed.

Miner says Sea Star Wasting Disease has hit the west coast before, mostly during El-Nino events, but the geographic scale of this outbreak is unheard of.