University of Washington and Seattle Aquarium

Ian arrived in Seattle late evening on Sunday after spending a day with friends in Portland – a very interesting city to say the least! After a short flight and good sleep, Ian made his way to the University of Washington’s marine facility, located next to the School of Oceanography. Ian had interviewed for a faculty job here some time ago, so it was interesting to see the place again! There, he met with the UW head of operations and several other folks to discuss plans for the winter’s research cruise in the Puget Sound on board the Clifford Barnes.

IMG_3853 The R/V Clifford Barnes at dock

The ship is equipped with everything we will need to accomplish the research goals, which include: 1) survey of deepwater sea star populations, 2) sediment coring to determine presence/absence of SSaDV (and a few other viruses) in strata; and 3) plankton tows to look at reservoirs of SSaDV and in urchin larvae.

IMG_3857 IMG_3854 Lab space and Fantail of the Barnes

IMG_3860 IMG_3861 Rock dredge and Van Veen Grab used for sampling deepwater animals and sediments, respectively

IMG_3858 Back deck of the ship. A lot smaller than most vessels I have sailed on, but more than capable of achieving what we are up to looking at Sea Star Wasting Disease

After a few hours of planning, Ian then proceeded to the Seattle Aquarium to meet with collaborator Lesanna Lahner to discuss plans for a workshop in January and to synergize about upcoming research plans.

IMG_3862 The Seattle Aquarium – which has played a key role in not only the wasting disease research but also in past big microbiological discoveries, including the cultivatable euryarchaeota

While there, Ian saw a couple of interesting sea stars which looked abnormal which has led to new ideas about how the disease actually kills the animals. Stay tuned!

IMG_3864 IMG_3863 Left – mostly Dermasterias in the aquarium’s touch tank – looking healthy; Right – large Evasterias in their outside tank

The meeting has given new ideas for how we’ll tackle understanding of the virus and disease. There have been some mysteries on timing of wasting, as well as location in animals of SSaDV, so hopefully this fresh perspective will take us in a new direction.

Meanwhile reports of SSWD continue to come in from Melbourne, Australia, and in the Yellow Sea. We’re not sure whether these constitute the same disease, but it is looking possible.

Today Ian has regressed to 12 year old status and will tour the Boeing Factory before heading back home.

More soon!


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