Program on sea star wasting disease kicks off series

A marine invertebrate expert will kick off the 2014-15 Discovery Speaker Series with a program Thursday on sea star wasting disease.

Presented by the South Sound Estuary Association, the free six-part series brings experts to the South Sound to talk about issues and challenges facing the South Sound’s marine environment.

In leading off the SSEA series, Ben Miner from Western Washington University will talk about the latest findings on sea star wasting syndrome.

Since 2013, researchers have seen a large number of sea stars along the West Coast die. The die-off is attributed to sea star wasting syndrome, but the cause of the disease is not known. To better understand the causes and ecological impacts of the syndrome, Miner’s laboratory is working on experiments and field surveys, according to an SSEA news release.

Miner is expected to discuss what scientists are studying in hopes of learning more about the cause of the disease and he will share the newest findings. He also will give an overview on how widespread the wasting syndrome is in Puget Sound. His program also will look at how the die-off has and will affect the food web of South Puget Sound.

The programs will be held the third Thursday night of the month. Future programs (and their subjects) are:

Oct. 16: Ocean acidification, shellfish, solutions and the Sound.

Nov. 20: New findings from research on the whales and other marine mammals of the region.

Dec. 18: Nisqually Reach Aquatic Reserve: Then and now.

Jan. 15: Understanding South Sound tides.

Feb. 19: Perspectives on engaging people in water quality issues.

March 19: Field observations of waterbirds and shorebirds of Puget Sound.

The programs are at the LOTT WET Science Center, 500 Adams St. NE, Olympia. The doors open at 6:30 p.m. with the program running 7-8:30 p.m.

Funding for the series comes in part from The Russell Family Foundation, the Washington Foundation for the Environment and the SSEA.

For more information, go to sseacenter.wordpress.com/discovery-speaker-series.