Colorful sea stars, commonly known as star fish, are dying off.
Marine disease expert, Kevin Lafferty, Ph.D. said he used to see hundreds of sea stars when he went scuba diving off the coast of UCSB where he works.
In January, he noticed them dying off.
Lafferty is one of more than two dozen authors of a report released on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
He said the huge collaboration began with researchers are from Cornell.
They pinpointed the sea star-associated densovirus by taking it out of sick sea stars and injecting it into others.
Sea stars have dyed off before but not in such a historic way. Sea star populations from Alaska to Baja California have been harmed by the virus.
There isn’t a cure, but researchers can now focus on what caused the outbreak.
Lafferty said the sea stars are an important part of the marine ecosystem.
For a link to the research paper go to, a http://www.pnas.org/search?fulltext=SEA+STAR&submit=yes&x=0&y=0