Climate Change-Disease Linkage: Two Interesting Cases, Seal Pups & Starfish

Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 14 March 2018


Climate-Disease Linkage

Two Interesting Cases

Seal Pups & Starfish

South American Seal Pups

Die-off of fur seal pups attributed to mites, pneumonia and changing sea, temperatures,
Morris Animal Foundation March 13, 2018.

"...key factors contributing to a die-off of South American fur seal pups, including mites, pneumonia and sea surface temperature."

"...urgent need to study the connection between environmental changes and wildlife disease"

"... potential factor in the outbreak was the corresponding and sudden warming of sea surface temperature in the Guafo Island area. Higher sea surface temperatures can lead to changes in the marine food chains that affect multitudes of marine species and can add additional stress to an entire population of animals. Studies in this fur seal population also have shown that the immune system of fur seal pups is sensitive to changes in patterns of maternal care, which vary when environmental conditions in the ocean, such as sea surface temperature, change."

"Like the respiratory mite finding, hookworm prevalence reaches 100 percent in years with higher sea surface temperatures."


Starfish Wasting

A starfish cold case reopens, climate change remains suspect,
Cornell University, March 13, 2018.

"Cornell University scientists are beginning to unravel the complicated connections between viruses, the environment and wasting diseases among sea stars in the waters of the Pacific Northwest."

"As ocean temperatures rise and oceanic diseases proliferate, species like sea stars struggle to survive, and scientists are looking for underlying causes.'

"Disease among sea stars is likely caused by multiple factors, not just one factor like SSaDV or rising temperature."

"The 'disease' is actually multiple diseases."

"It has been waning in recent years and is currently present at low levels. The ultimate consequence of the disease is that there has been a huge reduction in sunflower stars and a few other large starfish species."

"Sunflower sea stars...once prolific throughout the Salish Sea, which borders Washington state and Canada's British Columbia."

"In 2013-14 wasting disease decimated their population."

"We don't expect the sunflowers to return to pre-disease numbers any time soon."



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