A new study has documented that the sunflower star has been virtually eliminated along a 3,000 mile stretch of coast. A “zombie apocalypse” has been underway beneath the waves since 2013, with “sea star wasting disease” (SSWD) literally dissolving more than 20 species of sea stars into puddles of rotting flesh on the seafloor.
The publication documents how this most important of species, the sunflower star, has rapidly declined because of the combined effects of a devastating disease and climate-driven ocean heat waves. As we continue to burn fossil fuels, massive amounts of heat are being absorbed by the ocean, which is driving extreme temperature events that appear to increase the lethality of SSWD. This one-two punch is not only destroying the sunflower star—but also destroying the kelp forests that provide the foundational structure for an entire ecosystem of ocean species.
Saving what we love—including the sunflower star—will take all of us who do have a voice using it.
Congress must act on climate change. The science is clear, solutions are available here and now, and the ocean must be at the heart of climate action.
Congress must debate and move aggressive climate legislation that will ensure communities and ecosystems are spared the most devastating potential impacts from climate change, and are able to successfully adapt to those they can’t avoid.
That work must start now.
But in addition, Congress can and must take action immediately using the tools we already have. This spring Congress will take up appropriations legislation for the next fiscal year. Those bills must prioritize critical funding for the climate research, coastal resilience, and adaptation programs that are already working to tackle our climate challenges.
Take action today.