I spotted a cluster of sea stars under the edge of this glacial erratic boulder on the shore below Birch Point in Whatcom County.
Typically this would not be a big deal; however, a virus has been decimating the sea star population along the west coast including in Whatcom County. These stars appeared be free of the virus, but the sea star wasting syndrome was reported on a site a bit north of here and on the next point south at Point Whitehorn.
An interactive map showing the documented sites of sea star wasting syndrome and the presence or absence of the stars or the illness can be found at piscoweb.org/marine1/seastardisease.html. The term syndrome was due to the unknown cause of the wasting of the stars. There was some deep concerns about the ecology as the die off was huge and the broad implications of the loss of this predator species was very uncertain. But late last year the cause of the illness was reported to be isolated and is apparently caused by a virus that has been around for a long while (Hewson and others, 2014). These adult survivors and reported young stars elsewhere are good news for sea star population comebacks.