Saturday, December 20, 2003

A not-so-distant star

A government study of Port Phillip Bay, Australia found that fish populations have plummeted, and that the likely culprit is the Northern Pacific sea star (Asterias amurensis). As described by The Age, the report concludes that the sea stars are "like a vacuum on the bay's floor," and have drastically altered the ecosystem in a way that makes it inhospitable to bottom-dwelling fish species. The report also places some blame on scallop dredging in the 1960s, since that massive disturbance likely facilitated the sea star invasion. Northern Pacific sea stars are thought to have been introduced to Australia via ballast water.

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