Members of the Task Force crafted a Strategic Action Plan to coordinate research and management efforts.
We have formed the four working groups below, each of which has outlined research goals and accompanying action items to advance our knowledge of SSWS and promote recovery, where possible. Next steps include inviting stakeholder input to this plan and mobilizing scientists to execute the action items. Above: Now a rare sight, a young sunflower sea star (Pycnopodia helianthoides) is held by task force member Lenaïg Hemery during a dive at Alki Beach, West Seattle, in July 2015.
Diagnostics and Epidemiology focuses on the pathogenesis and etiology of SSWS, which remains largely unknown. Above: An infected and dying Stimpson’s sun star (Solaster stimpsoni) in 2014 at Deception Pass, Whidbey Island, Washington. Photo by Jan Kocian.
Surveillance and Ecology aims to maintain a monitoring network for future outbreaks of SSWS and to track population recovery, They also will investigate potential causes and study the consequences for marine communities. Above: Task force member Laurel Field sampling ochre sea star (Pisaster ochraceus) tissue for DNA analyses and pathogen detection in 2016. Photo by Sarah Gravem.
Management, Conservation, and Recovery will identify populations and species at highest risk, create appropriate recovery plans, and craft a socioeconomic impact report. Above: Multiple sea star species at varying stages of infection held in sea water tanks at the Seattle Aquarium. Photo by Tim Carpenter.
Communication, Outreach, and Citizen Science will create a communication network among scientists, stakeholders, the public and policymakers. They also coordinate citizen science efforts. Above: Citizen scientists measuring and counting ochre sea stars (Pisaster ochraceus) at Point Whitehorn, near Bellingham, Washington. Photo by Melissa Miner.