Several species of starfish in the world are on the brink of extinction due to a mysterious debilitating disease that, in the past seven years, has dramatically reduced asteroid populations.
This was determined by an investigation carried out by Cornell University. The study suggests that starfish may be experiencing respiratory distress that literally leads them to drown in their own environment.
The main reason would be the high microbial activity derived from nearby organic matter, in addition to high ocean temperatures.
“Starfish diffuse oxygen on their outer surface through small structures called papules or gills in the skin. If there is not enough oxygen around the papules, the starfish cannot breathe, ”said Ian Hewson, a professor of microbiology at Cornell University, in a statement.
According to the same researcher, ocean conditions stimulate the production of unusual amounts of organic material.
This encourages the bacteria to grow; As bacteria consume organic matter, they deplete oxygen in the water, affecting and putting starfish at risk.
"It is a cascade of problems that begins with changes in the environment," adds the expert, who explained the need for more scientific studies on the disease that threatens starfish.
"It seems that a disease is being transmitted," he added following the results of the study published in Frontiers in Microbiology .