Sea stars have been battling a disease outbreak for a decade on the western shores of the U.S. It effects many species, hits them quickly, and has even sent the sunflower star plummeting into “critically endangered” territory. And the way this disease works is a sea star’s very own version of a zombie apocalypse, with otherwise healthy limbs strewn across beaches and populations gone in just a few short weeks. So, if you’re a fan of zombie dramas, welcome to the real-life version of that. Whoever started the rumor that zombies are afraid of water clearly wasn’t a marine biologist.
The guest for this episode is Dr. Drew Harvell, an ocean disease scientist who has studied everything from corals, to sea grass to sea stars. She walks us through what we know about this sea star epidemic and what things might look like in the future.