Scientists unsure what is killing Oregon starfish

CHARLESTON, Ore. - Biologists are racing to understand a die-off affecting sea stars on the Oregon Coast.

The impact of Sea Star Wasting Syndrome started first showed up in Washington state and British Columbia earlier this year.

In the past few weeks, the effects have taken hold along the Oregon Coast, state and university scientists said.

Scott Groth, a shellfish biologist with Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, said his office is collecting samples of affected sea stars, commonly known as starfish, along the southern Oregon Coast.

So far, researchers have found no definite cause. It could be a bacteria or a viral pathogen.

"As far as human effects, I wouldn't expect there's any, and nobody is being concerned about that at this point," Groth said.

Groth said this has happened before in the early 1980s in southern California. The sea star population died and eventually rebounded.