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Updated: 03/13/2014 02:59:25PM

Disease kills starfish along West Coast

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FILE - This undated file photo released by the Rocky Intertidal Lab at the University of California-Santa Cruz shows a starfish suffering from "sea star wasting disease" - it's missing one arm and has tissue damage to another. Marine scientists are finding a large number of dead starfish along the West Coast stricken with the disease that causes the creatures to lose their arms and disintegrate. The affliction causes white lesions to develop, which can spread and turn the animals into "goo," and has killed up to 95 percent of a particular species of sea star in some tide pool populations. (AP Photo/Laura Anderson, Rocky Intertidal Lab UC Santa Cruz)

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska — In the aquarium at the Anchorage Museum, starfish, silent and slow, cling to rocks and wait to be lifted out of the tank for petting.

These five-armed creatures hardly seem prone to ecological drama. But last fall, the museum’s starfish started showing signs of a disease that scientists say is killing starfish colonies up and down the West Coast.

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