Questions for “Choked by bacteria, some starfish are turning to goo”

Dermasterias imbricata

Starfish can develop wasting disease, such as this leather star (Dermasterias imbricata) did, seen at the Sitka Sound Science Center in Alaska. Affected sea stars can dissolve into a puddle of goo.

Ian Hewson

To accompany “Choked by bacteria, some starfish are turning to goo


Before Reading:

1.  What are sea stars and where do they live?

2.  What are problems associated with low-oxygen levels in the oceans?

During Reading:

1.  What are two traits of bacteria seen near dying starfish?

2.  What is organic matter?

3.  What is sea-star wasting? Describe two of its impacts.

4.  What did scientists originally think caused the wasting disease in sea stars?

5.  What are coriotrophs?

6.  How did scientists test what caused the disease? Under some test conditions, up to how many sea stars might develop the wasting disease?

7.  How might the wasting disease spread from one sea star to another, according to the story?

8.  Why does Ian Hewson think climate change might make the wasting disease an even bigger risk for sea stars?

After Reading:

1.  Why do you think Ian Hewson describes the spread of sea-star wasting as a “snowball effect?”

2.  It’s never good for a species when mass die-offs of it occur. But what impacts might the die-offs of sea stars have on other species? Explain your reasoning.