MARINe Findings

MARINe publishes its findings in a wide variety of documents, including jointly published peer-review publications, conference proceedings and posters, agency reports and studies, news articles, and other media. Abstracts and PDFs of a subset of these findings are found in

  • Catastrophic reduction of seastars across the Pacific coastline over a very short time period
    The Sea Star Wasting Syndrome (SSWS) is a fatal disease affecting several species of seastar in the intertidal and subtidal zones along the coast from Alaska to Baja California. Earliest accounts of the wasting in ochre stars were found in August 2013 at MARINe sites monitored by National Park Service biologists at Olympic National Park. MARINe generated a protocol and initiated a rigorous sampling program for MARINe teams and Citizen Science teams. MARINe serves as a clearinghouse for this information, posting the results on a regularly updated map showing the progression of the disease ( The ochre seastar (Pisaster ochraceus) monitored at MARINe has been heavily affected. Current efforts are now directed toward understanding the changes to the ecosystem following removal of this keystone species.
  • Sudden decline of black abalone on the Channel Islands in the mid-1980’s and on the mainland at Point Conception in 1992.
    Research into this decline led to the discovery of Withering Foot Syndrome (WS), a disease caused by a micro-organism that is more active in warmer water conditions; hence, the increased spreading during El Nino events. MARINe has followed the black abalone decline and published several papers on this phenomenon.
    Based on MARINe data, the black abalone fishery was closed in Southern California in 1993. MARINe data show an absence of recovery of the population and indicated significant declines over a wide part of its range. In 2008, these data were used to substantiate the need for listing the black abalone as an endangered species.
  • Evidence of poaching and public collection of conspicuous species such as owl limpets, sea palms, seastars and black abalone.
  • Immediate depletion of resources requiring decades to recover following the opening of a portion of coast to public access.
    This is a serious problem as more and more land is being taken from private or military ownership and released to the public for access. This is compounded by the increased interest by the public in the ocean, in visiting coastal resources and coastal population growth. (References:  Raimondi 2007; Helix 2007; Coastal Connections, Volume 6)
  • Data on the sizes of owl limpet shells at protected and non-protected sites shows that heavy public visitation can occur without harm to the resource, provided public access is limited and oversight is provided. (Reference: Sagarin et al, 2007)
  • Significant decline in the number of species present in mussel beds over the past 30 years. (Reference: Smith 2006)
  • Many other findings and observations related to: barnacle recruitment, abalone reproductive failure, color morphs in seastars, recovery of patches, boa kelp reproduction, mussel changes and growth patterns can be found in the papers produced from this monitoring effort.