Cruise Day 2: A More Successful Day and More Stars!

The morning started bright and early for the team: an 8 am departure from Shilshoals Marina and heading west to the other side of Puget Sound for our first station. After all the kinks of the first day, operations are now running smoothly. The weather today was overcast, which meant it was coooold – in the 40s, but on the water it feels a lot colder.

IMG_4378Cold morning on the Sound!

Today we hit a total of 7 stations on our cruise track from Seattle to Port Townsend, including stops at sites which previously harbored very large sea star populations or where disease had been noted in 2013 – 2015. At our first 3 stations we didn’t recover any sea stars by trawl, but did find a large array of sea pens, rocks, and shells.

However, at our fourth site between Clinton and Langley adjacent to Whidbey Island, we did recover quite a few Vermillion Stars (Mediaster aequalis) and one star that looked like a juvenile giant pink star (Pisaster brevispinus). Upon close inspection, the vermillion stars all appeared to have some lesions, and the pink star seemed to have quite a bit going on disease-wise – even though it was small.


Vermillion stars, showing some disease signs, including white spots (lesions?) and some missing the ends of arms (rays)

Next, the cruise headed north to a couple of sites off Indian Point and Coupeville, where they found even more stars, including Henricia ornata, and some green urchins (Strongylocentrotus droebachensis).

On our last site, we also recovered what looks like a very juvenile Pycnopodia helianthoides


The team is also on the hunt for amphipods, which form the basis of a concurrent and complementary grant. These are sampled by either looking at detritus collected during trawls, or by plankton tow, and so far we have recovered a variety of different taxa, including hyperiids and gammarids.

Left: Hyperiid amphipods; Middle: Gammarid amphipods; Right: Mitch and Kalia looking for amphipods in sediments.

Overall the day was insightful and many samples were collected. Tomorrow we head even further North in search of more sea stars…


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