Latest developments on Sea Star Wasting Disease (SSWD)

The Seattle Aquarium’s work on Sea Star Wasting Disease (SSWD) was recently featured in a segment on KING 5 News. Dr. Lesanna Lahner, staff veterinarian, is treating a group of sea stars showing signs of the disease with antibiotics to see if the medication helps the animals fight it off. The segment also received coverage on NBC’s national news.

Since the end of October 2013, when SSWD first began to appear in our local waters, the Seattle Aquarium has been actively collaborating with a variety of institutions—including the Vancouver Aquarium, SeaDoc Society, Cornell University, the Wildlife Conservation Society and the USGS National Wildlife Health Center—to respond to the ongoing unusual mortality event occurring in sea stars along the West Coast. The cause of the disease has yet to be determined.

For details on our work on this issue to date, please see our previous blog posts:

The Seattle Times also published an article in June that features the Seattle Aquarium and further describes the disease and its current and potential impacts in our local waters and elsewhere.

A recent update provided by Dr. Lahner inspired a thoughtful donor to make a significant gift toward the next stage of research on the disease. Click here to contribute to our efforts to further understanding of this disease and its cause.

Interested in learning about the disease in person? Visit the Seattle Aquarium (where all affected sea star species have been removed from our exhibits) and speak to one of our interpreters; or talk to one of our volunteer Beach Naturalists this weekend—they’ll be stationed at a number of our local beaches. Click here for a schedule, locations and directions.

Looking for other ways to make a difference?

Research on SSWD is just one of the Seattle Aquarium’s many research efforts. For information about our other projects, read our most recent research annual report, or visit the research page on our website.

Follow us on Twitter for more updates on SSWD as they emerge. We’ll also continue to update our blog and social media with details about the efforts to determine the cause of the disease.

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Welcome puffin baby #2!

Baby tufted puffin at the Seattle Aquarium

It’s official…the second tufted puffin chick has hatched! Seattle Aquarium staff team continue to monitor both chicks and their parents very closely during this critical time.

Fun facts: Puffin babies are covered in fluffy, down feathers and eat whole fish brought into the burrow by their parents. Parents do not regurgitate the food, but rather collect several fish in their bills to feed their chicks.

Click here to read the blog post about the tufted puffin chick that hatched last week! And check out our fact sheet to learn more about the amazing tufted puffins.

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A new tufted puffin chick at the Seattle Aquarium!

Baby tufted puffin at the Seattle Aquarium

We are delighted to welcome a new tufted puffin chick to the Seattle Aquarium! The chick hatched late last week and, along with its parents, is being closely monitored by Seattle Aquarium biologists. As of this writing, the chick appears to be healthy and receiving the appropriate level of parental care. While this is a critical time for any newly hatched chick, we remain cautiously optimistic.

The chick will remain out of view in its burrow, being cared for by its parents, until it fledges sometime in August. Stay tuned for more updates on this chick—and watch for news of an anticipated second chick, expected anytime!

Check out our fact sheet to learn more about the fabulous tufted puffins.

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Creature feature: the male mouth-brooding Banggai cardinalfish

 

What does “male mouth-brooding” mean exactly? That the male carries the eggs—in his mouth! That’s an interesting characteristic of all cardinalfish.

Banggai cardinalfish, Pterapogon kauderni, belong to the Family Apogonidae (Cardinalfish). They’re named for the area in which they’re native, the waters off the Banggai Islands in central Indonesia, and are currently listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Now, back to that mouth brooding! Banggai cardinalfish reproduction begins when the female courts the male with a dance. She then releases about 40 eggs—which are all connected by filaments and referred to as a clutch—from her body and into the water, where they are fertilized by the male. Within seconds, he sucks up all the eggs into his mouth!

And in his mouth the eggs remain for about a month. During this incubation period, it’s believed that the male Banggai cardinalfish doesn’t eat. Some scientists think the male may swallow some of the eggs—by accident or design—as a way of getting some nourishment. Banggai cardinalfish in general aren’t very active, which is probably key in the male’s ability to go for such a long period without food.

Once the incubation period is complete, the babies swim out of the male’s mouth—each a tiny replica of an adult Banggai cardinalfish. Out of the average 40 eggs in a clutch, about 20 babies are born.

Come to the Pacific Coral Reef exhibit at the Seattle Aquarium to see Banggai cardinalfish in person!

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Support the Seattle Aquarium: vote YES on Prop 1 by August 5!

Parks for All - Vote YES

Seattle voters have a chance to cast a vote next month for the Aquarium and city parks. The Aquarium is supporting “Seattle Parks for All” and I hope you will too.

We’ve joined dozens of other citizens’ organizations to enthusiastically support Proposition 1. The “Seattle Parks for All” measure will help ensure that our city’s parks—including the Seattle Aquarium—are well maintained and accessible for generations to come.

 

Proposition 1 will replace the expiring parks levy with a lasting park district solution designed to address a $267 million maintenance backlog at many of Seattle’s most popular City-owned destinations, including the Aquarium. It will cost the owner of a typical $400,000 home only about $4 a month more than what they are currently paying. After more than a year of careful study, the measure was proposed by a special Seattle Parks citizens committee, endorsed by Mayor Murray—as well as all five preceding mayors—and has the unanimous support of the City Council as well.

For more information on the measure, visit seattleparksforall.com.

Ballots are due by August 5. Thanks in advance for supporting the Seattle Aquarium!

Bob Davidson

 

 

Robert W. Davidson
President/CEO
Seattle Aquarium

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