Why are starfish dying off the Pacific Coast?

A dying sea star whose arm has crawled away from its body.
This sea star's arm has crawled away from its body, causing its insides to fall out.

Starfish are dying by the tens of thousand up and down North America’s Pacific shores and nobody knows why. KCTS 9’s Katie Campbell has been following the researchers and citizen scientists on the frontlines of this mysterious epidemic. They’re trying to figure out what’s causing starfish, also known as sea stars, to die in a particularly gruesome way -- their arms crawl away and detach from their bodies.

Katie reports for our environmental news partnership EarthFix. Now, the story has escalated—our report on The PBS NewsHour has been shared and viewed more than 800,000 times in two weeks, making it one of the NewsHour’s most-viewed online stories and a top trending video on YouTube.

Citizen scientists from as far as Australia are helping track the outbreak by sending in video and photos of sick and dying sea stars to underwater videographer Laura James’ Sickstarfish.com project.

Join KCTS 9’s EarthFix reporter Katie Campbell and Seattle diver/videographer Laura James for a live chat on Wednesday, February 19, at 12pm Pacific. We’ll watch the 7-minute video and chat live at OVEE.itvs.org.

Read more reporting on EarthFix about this story:
Northwest Starfish Experiments Give Scientists Clues To Mysterious Mass Die-offs
Watch Underwater Video Of Sea Stars Dying Off West Seattle
Report starfish sightings: Citizen Scientists Asked To Help Search For #SickStarfish