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Star Students: Students inspire key study into the alarming decay of starfish Environment

Five years ago, the sixth class in closed Arkansas had heard about the mass murder of a starfish on the West Coast, and felt compelled to help.

Eleven years and twelve-year presidential election led by their fundraiser. They cut paper starfish – formally known as sea stars – and give them "adoption" for a $ 1 gift. They have added names and personality traits, such as Cherry Bomb, who "loves to make a phone call," "jumps the legging style," and "he's really clever but not stupid." Sell ​​T-shirts that read: "Save Starfish."

"We have no ocean nearby," said Vickie Bailey, a retired teacher now. "Students knew they would never go to the coast, probably never see this kind of star, but they were so passionate about what's going on."

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When Drew Harvell, a professor and researcher in marine ecology at Cornell University, received $ 400, or by collecting Carl Stuart High School in Conway, she knew that money should go to something important.

"I almost cried, so I touched it, so I joined it with my own $ 400, and then one of our donors put in here a bigger amount of money, and that's basically the funding that allowed us to conduct the first survey," Harvell said.

Flash forward to date: Harvell and her co-authors are releasing their study inspired by children's initial money. Cornell and the University of California, Davis, publish their work in Science Advances.

The campaign did not kill the starfish. Conclusions are terrible. Scientists, however, now know much more about the extent of deaths after analyzing data from trained recreational and professional divers and deep-sea trawlers.

Morbid star disease has affected more than 20 species from Mexico in Alaska. Some species better resisted the disease and others evolved to survive.

At the time of the outbreak of the video, the videotapes showed the plans of the dead star's full arms, the internal organs poured through lesions, Harvell reminded.

"This is [one of] the largest outbreak of wildlife[s] we have noticed because there are so many species in such a vast geographic area, "said Harvell.

The effect was particularly bad for a sunflower star, a creature of 3-4 feet, which can have up to two dozen shoulders. The sunflower star "passes through the seabed as a robotic vacuum cleaner, who seizes everything," as described by Cornell's media team.

Sea star sunflowers, living only on the west coast of North America, are now practically away from California, Oregon, and Washington.

Previous research has suggested that with warmer temperatures associated with climate change, the paralyzing disease has a higher risk of infection and is more likely to kill marine stars. A new study found that the outbreak of the virus between sunflower stars coincided with anomalously warm waters.

And the species disappearance has cascade effects on the ecosystem.

Sunflower stars have once kept the Marshmallow population under control, but now the numbers that lead to deserts are being exploded, where they have absorbed the algal habitat to the pink sea bottom beneath them.

While the species is at risk in the bottom 48, they do a bit better in British Columbia and some places in Alaska, Harvell said. Scientists will have to understand if a sunflower star can be repatriated if the disease ever leaves the watercourses on the West Coast.

"It's very important for something to happen," Harvell said. "It's not a problem we've been dealing with before, so I do not have an immediate suggestion of what we would do. I think we must definitely call a group of scientists to talk about the problem and what are the top priorities."

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