Category Archives: FAQ

What is Causing Sea Star Wasting Syndrome?

What is causing the outbreak?

Original article by Naomi Klouda of the Homer Tribune here

Scientists studying the most recent outbreak of sea star wasting syndrome along the Pacific west coast have ruled out plastics, ocean acidification and radioactivity sourced from Fukushima as likely causes of the die off.  Scientists working on the problem include Pete Raimondi of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at University of California, Santa Cruz, and Benjamin Miner, professor of marine biology at Western Washington University, who discussed their most recent work in a National Public Radio Forum. A link to the most up to date map showing the geographic extent of the outbreak can be viewed by clicking here.  The most likely cause appears to be a pathogen/infection that is transmitted through the water and distributed by currents up and down the coast. At present there is no definitive answer as to the cause of the outbreak.


Citizen Scientists Should Get Involved

If you are interested in helping the scientific community document the presence of sea star wasting syndrome please visit the following University of California Santa Cruz website.  Another great resource to learn more about the outbreak can be found on Karyn Traphagen’s website that provides fine photos and information.

Sea Star showing signs of wasting syndrome photographed by the author at Botanical Beach near Port Renfrew, BC in July 2014
Sea Star showing signs of wasting syndrome photographed by the author at Botanical Beach near Port Renfrew, BC in July 2014



The Inventories at and Release Estimates for Radionuclides From Fukushima

A Twitter user interested in the InFORM network asked the following question today:

“…do you have a public list of all products in Fukushima emissions?”

It is important to realize that release estimates are not fully constrained and that estimates improve as more and more measurements are made in the environment. A useful, peer-reviewed, open access study that summarizes release estimates is Povinec et al. (2013) published in the journal Biogeosciences. Table 1 from this study is shown below and can be maximized by clicking the image:


Full references for the table are available in the Povinec paper by following the link given above.  Estimates of plutonium released by the Fukushima disaster are provided in this summary with peer-reviewed studies linked to within the document. Measurements of Pu in soil, air and water suggest that 1 to 1,000,000 fold less Pu was released from Fukushima compared to 137-Cs emissions given above.

Below we present near comprehensive inventories of radionuclides in the reactor cores of Units 1,2 and 3 and in the spent fuel pools of Units 1,2,3 and 4 at the time of the accident as reported by:

Nishihara, K., H. Iwamoto, K. Suyama. 2012. Estimation of Fuel Compositions in Fukushima-Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Japan Atomic Energy Agency, Tokai. Japan.


The following information has been modified from:

Povinec, P.P, K. Hirose and M. Aoyama. Fukushima Accident: Radioactivity Impact on the Environment. 2013. Elsevier Amsterdam.

Tables in the pdf file given just below contain information on the radionuclide, grams of radionuclide present, half-life of element, activity in Bq and ratio to 137-Cs in the core or spent fuel respectively.

Povinec Tables_Fukushima