Like most schoolkids, I learned that starfish regenerate arms. Recently I read that a severed arm of some species of starfish (or sea stars, as scientists prefer to call them) can grow a whole new sea star.
Can the species under siege from sea star wasting syndrome regenerate their numbers to repopulate the intertidal zone of the Oregon Coast?
Just a few years back, ochre sea stars, Pisaster ocracheous, covered the coast in countless numbers. Now it is a rare day at Haystack when more than a dozen of these once-common creatures are revealed at low tide. Oregon Coast visitors tell me sea stars were so abundant in their childhood they peeled stranded specimens from rocks and took them home in shopping bags as souvenirs. Now their children are fortunate to see a single healthy adult sea star.
The good news is that right now juvenile sea stars abound in the intertidal zone. Perhaps these juveniles, which are now silver and the size of a quarter, will escape the fate of their wasted ancestors and once again paint the intertidal zone with striking color.