Kayla Balmer

Kayla Balmer

Starfish deaths linked to climate change, water temperature

NANAIMO – Create Conference showcases VIU students’ projects during three-day event at Nanaimo campus.

Starfish are dying in Nanaimo due to a flesh-eating-like disease and there could be a correlation to climate change, according to a fourth-year Vancouver Island University biology student.

As part of the Create Conference, a showcase of students’ research and projects, Kayla Balmer said there have been occurrences of sea star wasting disease in the Neck Point Park, Protection Island and Newcastle Island areas.

The aim of her study was to record instances of the disease in the area and to find out if occurrences of the disease vary amongst sizes and season.

Water temperature seems to play a factor, according to Balmer’s research.

“With climate change, that means that the ocean temperature is warming and they found that increased temperature is a huge factor in the intensity of this disease,” said Balmer.

She said the disease is waterborne, initially appearing like a white scar with eventual tissue deterioration. It covers the starfish’s entire body and can cause death within days or even within a few hours.

“In the summertime, the prevalence is highest then and then, as the months go on, the water cools and all those sea stars that have the disease have died off and then starting December is when you start seeing juveniles, little sea stars … Will they be able to survive through the summer and reproduce?

“We don’t know if it’s getting worse, we don’t know if it is actually going to settle out until we start looking at this summer to see will they be able to survive,” said Balmer.

She was one of over 80 students taking part in the Create Conference, according to Kathryn Jepson, event organizer.

“It’s a chance for them to build their resumé up, for if they’re going on to graduate school, or just give them presentation skills … or share their research with a wider audience,” said Jepson.

Awards will be handed out. The three-day conference ends today (March 26).

Just Posted

An artist’s rendering of a proposed student housing complex at 326 Wakesiah Ave. (WA Architects Ltd. image)
Graeme Roberts, who was mayor of Nanaimo from 1984-86, died this month at age 89. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Community Archives)
City of Nanaimo flags at half-staff as former mayor Graeme Roberts dies at 89

‘Giant-killer’ beat out Frank Ney in mayoral election in 1984

Curl B.C. chairperson Teri Palynchuk is this year’s winner of the Janette Robbins Award for leadership. Palynchuk is pictured here with the Curling Canada Foundation Cup along with past chairperson Peter Muir, left, and Curl B.C. CEO Scott Braley. (Photo courtesy Curl B.C.)
Nanaimo curling exec wins Curl B.C. leadership award

Teri Palynchuk receives Janette Robbins Award

(Black Press file photo)
RCMP: Air ambulance called to Whiskey Creek after crash involving 2 motorbikes

Both riders taken to hospital with serious injuries

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Cowichan Tribes man Adrian Sylvester is worried that he was targetted by a trailer hitch thrown from a vehicle. (Facebook photo)
Cowichan Tribes man worried he was target of trailer hitch

Adrian Sylvester says no one has reported a missing hitch after one nearly hit him

CVSAR search the Puntledge River following a report of an abandoned kayak. Photo, CVSAR Facebook page
Comox Valley Search and Rescue spends four hours searching for no one

Overturned kayak a reminder for public to contact officials if they have to abandon a watercraft

Most Read