Tacoma zoo loses half its sea star population to wasting disease

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — A disease responsible for wreaking havoc on wild sea star populations on the West Coast last year has reappeared at a Tacoma zoo.

The News Tribune reports that Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium has fewer than 100 sea stars. Last year, they lost more than half of their 369 starfish.

Aquarist Melissa Bishop says the disease, known as sea star wasting, has returned to their aquarium and that other officials have seen similar resurgences throughout the West Coast this year.

The disease causes sea stars to deflate. Their legs curl and contort and then lesions appear. Eventually, the limbs tear off and the animal disintegrates.

Port Defiance staff is treating affected sea stars with antibiotics, which proved effective last year.