After returning home to Ithaca for 10 days to catch up (‘dig out’) with work, Ian is back on the road, this time back to the UK to the 8th Aquatic Virus Workshop in Plymouth, Devon, UK. This workshop brings together the top marine virologists on the planet for a bi- (or tri-)ennial collection of talks, synthesis, and networking. In 2013, Ian alluded to the then-new project looking at sea star disease at the end of his talk about zooplankton virology. It’s gratifying to present the actual results of 3 years of hard work at this workshop to the same crew.
The workshop started this evening with registration and an ice-breaker (i.e. dinner) at the National Marine Aquarium. This impressive facility boasts a huge oceanarium which is packed with local species like Pollock, Turbot and Squalus, but also some interesting exhibits from around the world.
Immediately after entering the facility, Ian was drawn to the Kelp Tank, and its inhabitants… including several very healthy Pycnopodia helianthoides, Pisaster ochraceus and Patiria miniata. Early in the SSWD epidemic, there were reports that a quarantine facility near to Devon had received a shipment of sea stars from British Columbia that died in containment after arrival, and that other sea stars from africa and the red sea had also died when housed in the same tanks. It’s interesting to see these beasts in their UK homes… I wonder if they drink tea?
Healthy, large Pycnopodia in a kelp display tank… good to see!
Tomorrow, Ian will present a talk entitled “A Puzzle Across Space and Time: Piecing Together The Microbial Ecology of Sea Star Wasting Disease” where he will talk about some of the interesting findings we have been making since January.