Some types of bacteria living in the sea are spreading a deadly sea star disease. They require a high amount of oxygen to survive and hence they are leading to the scarcity of oxygen in the seawater. Their presence near sea stars is leading to the deaths of sea stars due to the depletion of oxygen in the water.
Due to an insufficient supply of oxygen, sea stars suffer suffocation and it leads to the melting of sea stars in a puddle of slime. Scientists have noticed that sea star wasting disease is responsible for deadly symptoms like decaying tissue and loss of limbs.
This disease was earlier noticed in 2013 when a massive number of sea star deaths were observed on the US Pacific Coast. Before 2013, the outbreak of this disease was noticed but it was not on a large scale. At that time, scientists thought in 2014 that a virus or bacterium might be responsible for the sickness of sea stars.
But soon, further studies rejected any relationship between the virus and the deaths of sea stars. It left scientists perplexed and they continue their research work to come to the conclusion that nutrient loving microbes spread the disease in seawater.
Scientists have discovered that certain types of microbes known as copiotrohs thrive in nutrients rich environments present nearby the sea stars at higher levels. Ian Hewson, a marine biologist at Cornell University, has expressed that seawater disease is not caused by a contagious pathogen.
But its transmission is making dying sea stars produce more organic matter to facilitate the growth of the bacteria nearby healthy animals. She says it is a snowball effect and this situation is likely to deteriorate with climate change.