Scuba Diving: Where have all the sea stars gone?

Colorful Orange Bat Stars off of Palos Verdes, California. Captured by our underwater photographer Wade McDonald

It’s difficult to think about the ocean without sea stars coming to ones imagination. In fact there are well over 1,000 different species of this marine invertebrate living within the Earth’s waters,

From the hot and humid tropics all the way down to the freezing polar regions. They live in the tidal zone areas and can be found as deep as 20,000 feet below the ocean’s surface!

I have always been fascinated with the marine environment and sea stars are no exception,there are so many to photograph, different colors, shapes and sizes.

When I lived on the Big Island of Hawaii, one of my favorite places to snorkel was at the Captain Cook Monument there in Kealakekua Bay. On one occasion I witnessed a “Crown Of Thorns” sea star take hold on to the Reef.

This species feeds on coral polyps and when their presence goes unchecked by predators they can devastate an entire area. Here around Catalina if you have ever spent any amount of time on or around our local waters you have probably encountered both the common “Giant Spined” sea star as well as the “ochre” sea star.

Unfortunately these species and others have disappeared from California coastal waters, leaving alot of us to wonder what the heck happened. There are quite a few theories and speculations out there floating around, yet no one really knows why.

Scientists and researchers have been busy trying to find the cause to this tragic event. One thing for sure, Mother Nature is always speaking. If only more of us would pay attention.

Let’s take a look at our official Marine Forecast for the Island now shall we? This afternoon expect West winds blowing at 10 to 20 Knots persisting through the weekend. Mostly cloudy with a chance of rain on Saturday Temperature high of 65 Degrees and a low of 57.

Always remember to check current weather conditions when planning your activities around the water. Know your limitations and swim near a lifeguard when possible, When In Doubt Don’t Go Out!