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Ed Ricketts Memorial Award and Lecture


Dr. Peter Raimondi

University of California, Santa Cruz


Investigation of sea star wasting: The critical importance of citizen science

Sea stars along much of the North American Pacific coast are dying in great numbers from a mysterious wasting syndrome. Similar die-offs have occurred before in the 1970s, 80s, and the 90s, but never before at this magnitude and over such a wide geographic area. Pisaster ochraceus and many other species of sea stars have been affected by the current sea star wasting syndrome event. The paper by Hewson et al. "Densovirus associated with sea-star wasting disease and mass mortality" provides evidence for a link between a densovirus (SSaDV) and sea star wasting syndrome (SSWS). However, even assuming that the disease is related to a pathogen it is unclear what caused the outbreak to initiate, particularly because the virus identified has been present in the system for decades. This event is probably the most rigorously described disease event in a marine system. This is due to three major elements. First – there were existing monitoring efforts along the west coast including PISCO, NPS and BOEM efforts. Second, a website was developed rapidly that acted as a repository for observations and as a portal for depicting (using interactive graphics) the spread of wasting geographically, temporally and by species. Third, there was a massive infusion, enabled through upload capacity in the website, of citizen science observations. These were high quality, geographically and temporally explicit observations that provided a huge augmentation to traditional science observations. This event, the response to it and the formal incorporation of citizen science provides a model for future events where rapid data acquisition is essential.


About Peter Raimondi

Peter Raimondi is a professor in and chair of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UC Santa Cruz. He received his PhD from UC Santa Barbara in 1988 and prior to his appointment at UC Santa Cruz had post-doctoral fellowships at the University of Melbourne in Australia and at UC Santa Barbara. He is the author of 100+ peer reviewed papers and technical reports on a wide range of topics, such as coral recruitment, kelp forest and rocky shore ecosystems, demography, molecular genetics, marine protected areas, wave energy, ecotoxicology, once-through cooling at power plants and desalinization facilities, nearshore oceanography and particularly design of monitoring programs. He is a principal investigator with the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans (PISCO), a multi-university consortium designed to conduct interdisciplinary research that informs coastal marine management and policy. He advises numerous panels, including the California Marine Life Protection ACT (MLPA), the California Coastal Commission Scientific Advisory Panel, the Statewide Ocean Desalinization Task Force, National Marine Sanctuary Program (NOAA) and the California State Water Board Advisory Panel. His current projects include: (1) Population and essential habitat assessment for the endangered species, black abalone (2) linking genetics to ocean circulation models to assess metapopulation connectivity of Kelp populations, (3) Assessment of patterns of biodiversity along the west coast of North America, (4) Baseline assessment of coastal resources in newly established marine protected areas in California and, (5) Assessment of biological effects resulting from intakes from discharges into state of California coastal waters. Dr. Raimondi has more recently started a project assessing the patterns and effects of seastar wasting along the west coast of North America.

History of Ricketts Memorial Award and Past Recipients

Reviewed: April 11, 2024
Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service

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