"Sea star wasting sydrome" has some pretty scary results. Image by Jonathan Martin via Flickr
Starfish on the Pacific Coast are succumbing to a terrifying disease that's causing them to decompose and turn into gross piles of goo.
The disease causes sea star limbs to decompose, making for a dramatic death as affected starfish slowly fall off the rocks they cling to, plummeting to their demise.
As The Seattle Times reports in-depth, large populations of starfish in Washington State are getting hit hard by "sea star wasting syndrome," after initial reports at Olympic National Park last summer. Starfish at Alki Beach are apparently being hit especially hard, freaking out beach-goers with the gruesome sight and rancid smell of rotting starflesh.
Sea star wasting syndrome has slowly spread up to Alaska, down to Mexico, and is infiltrating our state more and more as time wears on, affecting starfish in Hood Canal and the San Juans.
Researchers are still unsure what the cause for the disease is, but suspect an infection spreading thanks to warmer waters might be the culprit. In the meantime, if you see a melting pile of goo on the beach, please don't touch it.