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The SeaDoc Society is a program of the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

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February 2014 SeaDoc Society Update

Sea star wasting disease update

sick sea star

Several months ago we told you about an on going die off of sea stars and you might be wondering what is going on.

This die off event stretches from Alaska to southern California and has killed an estimated millions of sea stars. In British Columbia and Washington, mortality first appeared in the Salish Sea before showing up on the coast.

Species heavily affected include Pycnopodia helianthoides, Pisaster species, and Evasterias species and signs include a melting that begins on the surface at the junction of the disc and arms and progresses to complete dissolution of the star in 2-3 days. It's ugly.

SeaDoc is working with an international team of investigators and multiple institutions to collect samples and uncover the cause.

To date, despite a suspicion that it is caused by an infectious agent like a virus, no pathogen has been identified, so more highly sophisticated and technologically-advanced techniques are being used.

In the meantime, SeaDoc will soon be going out to resurvey some of the sites we checked in October and November.

EarthFix recently ran a good article on the current state of knowledge about the outbreak.

Photo: Diseased sea star by J. Gaydos

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Teaching veterinarians about wildlife diseases

river otter

While most veterinarians work on dogs, cats, horses or farm animals, many also work on wildlife by assisting wildlife biologists or working with wildlife rehabilitation centers. In January, Joe Gaydos gave several presentations on wildlife diseases at the North American Veterinary Conference in Orlando, Florida, which is one of the largest veterinary training conferences in the world. You might find the presentations Joe gave on Salmonella in Wildlife and on River Otter Diseases interesting.

River otters are an important species in the Salish Sea because of their role as predators in the nearshore. They are a key predator and also host various bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites, some of which can be transmitted to humans or domestic animals.

Salmonella is a bacterium that we usually hear about in humans or domestic animals like cattle, but it's also been found in marine mammals, including harbor porpoise, killer whales, and various seal species.There is great interest in learning if people or domestic animals could be transmitting this bacterium to marine wildlife.

Photo Credit: Chris Paul Photography via cc

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What is One Health and why should you care?

Dean LairmoreOne Health is the understanding that human health, animal health and ecosystem health are all connected. This thinking is driving not only the teaching of medicine and ecology, but also being used as an organizing principle for setting up research or restoring ecosystems. Dr. Michael Lairmore, Dean of the Vet School at UC Davis, was interviewed by KVIE Television in Sacramento, CA and provides an excellent primer on the One Health philosophy. His interview also will give you a great idea on how SeaDoc's work fits into the larger context of veterinary medicine. (SeaDoc, of course, is part of the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center at the UC Davis Vet School.)

  • At 1m:29s Dean Lairmore talks about the importance of the One Health initiative, which focuses on the intersections between human health and animal health, especially in the area of emerging and zoonotic viruses.
  • At 2m:50s he talks about the importance of veterinary medicine in food safety.
  • At 14m:42s he talks about work done in the Wildlife Health Center to discover emerging infectious diseases around the world before they can become pandemics.
  • And at 19m:10s he discusses recent advances in genomics that are allowing scientists to study pathogens in much greater detail than ever before.

Watch here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OcLdLIsSOis&feature=youtu.be

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Derelict fishing gear removal success story

net removal

On Tuesday, February 11, Joan Drinkwin of the Northwest Straits Foundation is coming to Orcas to talk about how the local effort to remove lost fishing nets and crabbing gear has strengthened our local economy and helped recover marine wildlife populations.

Over the last decade, the Northwest Straits Initiative has removed 4,605 nets from shallow waters in the Salish Sea, saving the lives of more than 3.5 million marine animals that would have otherwise been entrapped and killed by these nets each year.

And guess what, it's cost-effective. A joint Northwest Straits - SeaDoc Society study revealed that while removing a net cost $1,358, every net removed saves $1,965 each year in Dungeness crab alone, not to mention the salmon, lingcod, birds, and mammals that would have been killed by that net.

This talk will be a great chance to hear about people making a difference that not only helps heal the Salish Sea, but also improves our economy.

As always with our Marine Science Lecture Series, the talk is free. It takes place at Emmanuel Episcopal Church parish hall in Eastsound at 7pm.

Photo: R. Purdell

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Exploring beneath the Salish Sea video now available

Gary Greene

Beneath the surface of the Salish Sea lie a dazzling variety of habitats. We all know about kelp forests and eelgrass meadows and the riot of life they support, but did you know that we have huge "sand waves" that shelter vast schools of sand lance and provide foraging environment for birds like Tufted Puffins and Rhinoceros Auklets? Or that all of the various bottom features scientists have identified – glacial moraines, earthquake-generated rock piles, vertical ice-cut rock walls and mud-filled bays and sounds – each support their own collection of animals?

Last November, Dr. Gary Green gave a brilliant lecture on this topic to a packed house. Now you can watch it online and learn things you never knew about what goes on beneath the surface of the Salish Sea.

http://www.seadocsociety.org/video-gary-greene-exploring-salish-seafloor/

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Want to donate to the 2014 Wine 'n' Sea Auction?

We're already busy planning for this year's Wine 'n' Sea Auction, which will be held on July 12, 2014, from 5 to 8:30pm. Board member Rochelle Severson and her husband Cory will host the event at their beautiful waterfront property in Grindstone Harbor on Orcas Island, and it's shaping up to be a fantastic evening.

If you'd like to help out by donating wine to be auctioned, we've set up a special arrangement with Compass Wines of Anacortes. Co-owner Doug Charles has selected a variety of wines for the auction. We've set up a special page where you can pick out one or more bottles from his list. You can then purchase it for 20% off the list price and donate it to the auction.

If you would like to donate art, experiences, or other items, please contact the SeaDoc office at 360-376-3910.

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Upcoming Events

Tuesday, February 11, 7pm. Marine Science Lecture: Joan Drinkwin of the Northwest Straits Initiative on "How Removing Derelict Gear is Recovering Marine Wildlife." Emmanuel Church Parish Hall in Eastsound.

Tuesday, March 11, 7pm. Marine Science Lecture: Kit Rawson, retired fisheries biologist with the Tulalip Tribes and SeaDoc board member, on "Washington Tribes and Salmon Recovery: Partnerships and Perceived Conflicts." Emmanuel Church Parish Hall in Eastsound.

2014 Salish Sea Conference: The Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference will be held April 30-May 2, 2014, at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Seattle. http://www.wwu.edu/salishseaconference/

2014 Wine 'n' Sea Auction: Our 2014 auction will be on Saturday, July 12th, 2014 on Orcas Island. Mark your calendar!

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About SeaDoc

The SeaDoc Society uses science to find solutions to the problems facing marine ecosystems. We are a program of the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center, a center of excellence at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

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