Sea star disease strikes Olympic Peninsula marine centers

Sea star disease strikes Olympic Peninsula marine centers
Disa Wilson, a staff member of the Feiro Marine Life Center in Port Angeles, holds a leather star, one of only a few surviving sea stars at the facility. (Photo by Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
PORT ANGELES, Wash. (AP) - The disease wreaking havoc on wild sea star populations on the West Coast has struck captive collections in the Olympic Peninsula.

The Peninsula Daily News reports Monday that sea stars at Port Townsend's Marine Life Center and Feiro Marine Life Center in Port Angeles have died of the disease, known as sea star wasting.

In Port Townsend, 12 ochre stars have died, while it eliminated a species from the tanks in Port Angeles. Both centers pipe in ocean water for their tanks.

Experts believe the disease may be caused by bacteria or virus and that it's infectious.

Caretakers at the Peninsula's marine science centers don't intend to replace sea stars until they feel more confident they can keep them alive and to avoid taking breeding adults that may be needed to replenish wild colonies.