Category Archives: Laguna Star Fish

Fukushima Radiation Hysteria

My Fukushima Radiation Hysteria And Laguna Beach


In my mind, the disaster at Fukushima and the radiation levels put into the global ecosystems have trouble written all over them.  How could that type of pollution and contamination be good for anyone and anywhere?  What this has led to is a tsunami of alarmist stories of doom and gloom and the desire to attract readers with fancifully photoshopped images of marine animals washing up with blame squarely on the shoulders of radiation from Japan.  We live in very confusing times where social media and blogging have given everyone a platform to write stories.  Even in traditional media we are prone to receiving content and stories with misinformation and hidden agendas.  It makes you want to question everything, and question we should.  While the scientific mind can pick apart radiation level reading and reason that in the here and now we are all safe, my unscientific mind tells me there is hell to pay for the Fukushima disaster.  Add stories of the government allegedly stocking up on iodine and you begin to wonder if there is something far more sinister going on.  The government won’t contribute to a panic in America and I believe they probably couldn’t tell us we were all in trouble until it was way too late.  Thinking about the welfare of people, it is almost understandable even if we hate the idea of not being told the truth.  While our government says next to nothing, reputable groups like Natural News are putting stories out there of contamination.  As a nutrition group that exposes the relationship of the FDA and Big Pharma, and how the funding of the pharmaceutical giants heavily influences FDA policy and decision-making, Natural News pushes back and makes people think about whether or not pharmaceutical drugs are the right choice to restore health.  Keep in mind that Natural News is also trying to sell us on supplements that the FDA, as funded by Big Pharma, recently told us pretty much did us no good at all.  It makes you wonder whether or not drugs get through testing without a bias or expected favor by the FDA won through funding.  My feeling is that Natural News may just have our backs more than the FDA and Big Pharma relationship does.  I wouldn’t go as far as saying that all pharmaceutical drugs are bad but I would say that there are natural solutions to human ailments that as a culture we have steered clear of or away from the interest of protecting the profits of drug companies.  I don’t like that and feel like there are forces out there that do not truly care about our well-being and will pound us with every form of media to convince of a solution.  I believe Natural News wants to help people and for that reason, I give credibility to stories Natural News provides that talk about the dangers of radiation from Fukushima.

So, where does that leave you and me, and what is it about the human mind that wants to find evidence or sign of disasters that are being reported?  The reason I ask that is I found myself wanting to find sea stars at Aliso Beach and Crescent Bay wasting away into a goo so that I could haphazardly blame radiation and scream bloody murder at the top of my lungs.  Did I really want to find sea stars in the process of dissolving.  Hell no!  I would be deeply saddened to see these magnificent sea creatures condemned to die by a disease that eats it’s flesh.  It’s horrible.  I searched high and low for sea star waste disease at these two spots and came up empty.  It is true that my unscientific, visual, field study of sea stars in the tide pools of North and South Laguna Beach only included the pisaster ocher type.  I could not find brittle stars or bat stars to determine if waste disease existed in those species. It may or may not be present in those two species of sea stars in Laguna and I couldn’t offer anything relevant or an opinion based on what I had seen. While I struck out on finding the waste disease in sea stars in Laguna that tied us into the effects of Fukushima Radiation, my mind wasn’t done with trying to find something that proved there was some bad news in local waters.

When I first wrote the story that reported the health of observed sea stars in the tide pools of Crescent Bay and Aliso Beach along the northern and southern parts of the Laguna Beach, I did not report an unexplained organic material that I saw that left me with questions.  I figured I would need to seek out an expert before I too get crazy and spew nonsense all over the internet. It is incredible not to join the monkeys throwing poop around the cage as it relates to the reporting of Fukushima Radiation given the volumes of negative stories that are hitting the internet.  Unfortunately, I share the disposition of many who believe we could be in real trouble with this disaster and the real story is being suppressed by governments including but not limited to our own.  Though I have been yanked into some of these back and forths in social media related to Fukushima Radiation, I have seen the need to pull it back and have more logical and fact based discussions leaning on science and departing from fear and emotion.  My suspicions have remained despite my restraint.

In the tide pools, there was this orange substance that appeared to be disfigured.  It was embedded into the reefs, in beds of mussels, under pisaters ocher sea stars and wedge into crevices found in the tide pools.  Where it was safe to do so, I was able to touch these organic substances and too me they had the texture and feel of a sea star.  Was this the evidence that I was hoping for but not really hoping for?  When I wrote the story I did not include any of these pictures because I couldn’t have been sure of what I saw and I couldn’t definitively say they were sea stars.  I felt like they could have been bat sea stars that had wasted away.  I did what I could to describe the animal that I saw online in google search and it did not produce any revelations that left me satisfied.  I stumbled upon the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium and used their online contact form to request an email to send pictures.  Those pictures are featured as a gallery in this piece so you can see what I saw.  Mike Schadt from the Aquarium was kind enough to get back with me.  Of course the pictures I took with my IPhone 4S were of substandard quality but he suggested they could be either a colonial tunicate or a red volcano sponge.  The color is closest to the colonial tunicate so for now I am going to go with that.  Mike didn’t seem to concerned about the appearance of these orange areas so I am going to say that I still think that the tide pools at Aliso Beach and Crescent Bay are free of sea star waste disease, or at least as far as I can tell.



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Sea Star Waste Disease Aliso Beach



I made it a point to check out a spot in Northern Laguna Beach at Crescent Bay where I knew there was a large population of Sea Stars.  By the way, after reading about the waste disease occurring in star fish populations of the Pacific Ocean from British Columbia to Mexico, I discovered it is politically incorrect to refer to these creatures as star fish because they are more closely related to sea urchins than they are to fish.  So, now you know.  Who knows you may find yourself with a a science question on the game show Jeopardy and your answer will be what is a Sea Star!

While I am extremely familiar with the tide pools in North Laguna, I am not at all familiar with those of Laguna Beach.  You have those on the north below the Montage referred to as Treasure Island and you have the tide pool on the south that separates West Street Beach (Table Rock) and Aliso Beach.  It is interesting because the tide pool rocks on the south end have a moss that grows on it and it is slippery.  Make sure if you are going to climb through that tide pool that you have shoes with good footing and traction.  This is the kind of slippery that could have you surprised and really get laid out.

Besides the moss growing on the rocks that are slippery when wet, you notice that the mussel beds are on the rocks that jut further out into the ocean.  I had to walk further out on the partially exposed reef to see any star fish and oops I did it again!  The scientific community will have to excuse me for the omission of the proper term for these wonderful creatures.  Setting the record straight and so none of our smart friends in the marine biology field get their chonies in a bunch, I am referring to sea stars.  I did not see any sea stars until I got really close to the end of the reef.  They were at the edges and experiencing a resurgence of the tide so it was really difficult to get a bunch of pictures.  I will assume that if the tide were lower like we had the previous couple of days that I would have seen more because I simply would have been able to travel out further on the reef.  I was able to snap some pictures though, and as I found out in Northern Laguna Beach at Crescent Bay, the only thing that was a waste was glassy ocean conditions due to no waves.  In fact, the sea stars look to be healthy, but as I said before, I am no scientist.  What is clear is that there was no goo, mush, halves of star fish separating and walking away from each other or missing limbs.  Did I say star fish again?  Sorry but the scientific community will have to grin and bare it as I learn to call these sea faring stars by the proper name.

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Follow Up On Sea Star Waste Disease

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In late December, I decided to climb up onto the tide pool area at Crescent Bay to determine if there were any visible signs of sea star waste disease. Truthfully, I expected to find evidence of it within this population of sea stars along the Laguna Beach Coastline in this particular rocky, inter-tidal zone.  I had been through their before and there are tons of sea stars.  The first time I got up into the tide pool area, some of the sea stars were in spots that I could not get to due to a low tide that wasn’t quite low enough.  I took pictures that day with my IPhone 4S and found no evidence of anything terrible going on. I figured that was no way you could miss a sea star losing limbs, turning to goo or fragmenting with two sides of the body separating and crawling away from each other  That is pretty dramatic and I expected that I would find something. With the exception of one individual with one mark on it, I saw nothing sinister.  Nothing rivaled what I had seen online of the sea star wasting disease despite the fact that this issue has been said to affect the Laguna Beach area.  If this is the case, it did not appear that Crescent Bay had seen the effects.

All week we have had big high tides with wide swings to negative low tides over a foot.  I read that some of the one’s in the parts of the tide pools that got super dry could appear to be sick and that the best evidence of the disease would be found in the low lying areas of the tide pools that spent much less time exposed to drained out tides.  These are the areas that are predominantly under water. Knowing the tides would cooperate with a much more comprehensive view of the tide pools at this North Laguna Beach, I decided to give it a second go around.  If it was there, I would find it.  Trust me when I tell you I would be okay if it wasn’t there at all.  Nobody likes to see star fish die-off as has been reported in the news so many times recently.

I found no missing limbs.  I saw no goo.  I saw no sea stars that appeared headed for a separation that had two sides going the opposite directions.  I looked.  I got to as many low lying areas of the tide pool and reef as the tide would allow me.  There are pictures to document my research today.  One of the things you will see is that the sea stars that are under sea water in the tidal pools or that are recently exposed appear to have more color.  As the star fish dry out, they tend to look less healthy, but again I saw no missing limbs and goo.  If the disease is in this community of sea stars, I have not seen it.  As I indicated, it appears that some sea stars are in better shape than others but let’s face it, not all sea stars can be sexy!  I am not a scientist, but I did not see anything that resembled lesions that are said to start the process of wasting away.

I am attaching a gallery of my pictures of sea stars from today January 3rd 2014.  It is important that you see pictures of the affects of the disease so that you know what I am comparing my pictures to.  Again I am not a scientist, but the health of the star fish in this area of Laguna Beach appears to be healthy.  It is important to note that I observed only the Pisater Ochre Sea Star and perhaps orange bat sea stars.  There are other west coast sea stars that are having issues up and down the coast but did not see them in this particular inter-tidal zone.

Example 1 San Franciso Gate January 3, 2014

Example 2 High Country News November 14, 2013

Example 3 ABC News November 5, 2013

Look at these for reference.  There is no missing the damage found in these pictures and I am not seeing it in North Laguna Beach, California.





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Sea Star Waste Disease in Laguna Beach?


Sea Star, Star Fish, Laguna Beach Sea Star, Laguna Beach Star Fish, Waste Disease, Sea Star Waste Disease, Star Fish Waste Disease

Laguna Beach Sea Star With Possible Waste Disease Lesion.  Just right of the center, there is discoloration or a white area that looks similar to documented waste disease lesions in star fish.  Is it waste disease, I cannot say.

Is Sea Star Waste Disease In Laguna Beach?  According to experts, it is.  There have been reports that not only is there evidence of the disease along the Pacific Coastline from British Columbia to Mexico, but also independently on the East Coast.  Some were quick to throw out a causal link between Fukushima Radiation and these events, and while I appreciate the conspiracy theory mind and mistrust of reports, star fish waste disease is not a new occurrence in Southern California.  Previous events of star fish waste disease came after warm water events along the Southern California Coastline in El Nino Years.  2013 had an odd occurrence of warm water in May of this year that may have been a catalyst in this new event of the disease.  In the surf community, we would call the ability to wear trunks in local waters in May a warm water event.

Recently I asked a friend of mine to go down and take pictures of the star fish in the tide pools for me.  I am sure that the business of being a teenager got in the way of the promise to do that.  Our recent flat spell gave me an opportunity to go down to the tide pools and see if I could find evidence of this waste disease.  Crescent Bay in Laguna Beach has a large inter-tidal reef and tide pool area that alternates between a state of being underwater at higher tides and exposed and drying during lower tides.  It has a large bed of mussels which is a favorite food source of our star fish friend here in Southern California.  As with all animals it seems, when the prey is in large supply, predators thrive.  I have always marveled at how many star fish were visible at low tide at Crescent Bay.  They literally pile on top of each other to get at those shelled, musseley morsels that line the tide pool areas.

The reports about the sea star waste disease are pretty vivid and disheartening.  There is talk of populations being wiped out.  Descriptions include sea stars turning into goo and two halves of a star fish separating with each half going in different directions.  What?  I was thinking that based on these reports I would see some dramatic evidence of the disease as Laguna Beach is a part of the large stretch of coastline said to be affected by this disease.  I was eager to check this out because exploring the tide pools in Laguna Beach and appreciating marine life like the star fish dates back to my childhood.  I would be genuinely upset if I found sea stars suffering under this debilitating disease and would be equally disappointed that these types of events are in many ways tied to our disrespect of the environment.

What I know from reading about this disease is that it has been linked to bacteria in California that seem to attack the star fish after a warm water event.  As I have learned, it begins with lesions that begin a degradation process that takes as little time as two days to cause serious deformity, wasting away and death. Some have been willing to let the mind wander and are loosely throwing out there that Fukushima Radiation is to blame.  The evidence seems to suggest otherwise but you never know.  A recent event on the East Coast with sea star waste disease was said to have been caused by a virus and not bacteria.  Attempts to link events together with two different causes should give us pause and encourage us to isolate events and discover the real truth independently of each other.  By the way, why is it that in the information age it is so hard to find the truth?  There is always an agenda and information dissemination seems to follow dollars and hidden agendas.

So, here is what I can tell you based on what I saw.  First of all, I wasn’t able to get to lower lying portions of the tide pool that spend more time under water. The low tide was at over 2 feet so the best observation area was under water when I took pictures.  In reading about sea star waste disease, I have learned that the best place to look is the most suitable habitat.  Those areas that dry out between tide swings are less ideal for star fish because of the risk of drying out. One of the assertions made in an article I read about the disease was that star fish could get similar lesions ( to one’s seen in waste disease) from drying out due to exposure.  With that said, I feel like the best outdoor science lab in the tide pool to observe for the presence of the disease was not available today.  While I didn’t see anything so alarming with the star fish observed that I would confirm the disease’s presence at Crescent Bay, I did see a few things that I would like to go back and take a closer look at.  I will just need a lower tide.

Lesions and deformities are what would be visible among the population of star fish as evidence of the disease.  I figured there would be a greater occurrence of the deformities than goo because the star fish is not living at this point and certainly not able to hang on to the rocks with incoming waves.  For the most part, I didn’t see anything that was obvious or screamed of the presence of waste disease.  I will say that the way the star fish dig into the mussel beds, it is really hard to tell if there are deformities on the arms of the stars because some of their limbs are not visible as they disappear into the beds.  I did see a few that I wanted to take a closer look at.  The tide level wouldn’t allow me to safely get down to them without falling in the water with my phone in hand.  I did review one picture I took and found that it had a mark that could be a lesion that is said to be the start of the waste away process.


First and foremost I love the ocean and am aware that we humans have put undue pressure on this valuable resource.  From Fukushima Radiation to urban runoff, we have not been kind to our oceans.  As an advocate for preserving the ocean and a place I love in Laguna Beach, I have given a lot of thought to why we need to protect our oceans.  The numbers on this can’t be any more telling.  Salt water makes up 98.5% of the 70% of the earth’s surface that is water.  I don’t think that when you completely toxify 70% of the earth’s surface, which just so happens to deliver fresh water and food sources to people globally, that the future looks good.  Secondly, I love Laguna Beach. My childhood memories go way back in Laguna Beach with family vacations and what we saw in the tide pools there was always a highlight of the trip.  It is a fascinating coastal environment rich in marine life, picturesque landscapes, soft-sanded coves, exotic waters, majestic sea cliffs, and inter-tidal reefs that make it special.  Unlike much of the Southern California Coastline with long, flat sandy beaches interrupted by piers and jetties, the Laguna Beach Coastline is alive.  It is truly a special, special part of our coastline and we should do everything we can to preserve it.

I know that people out there are thinking about our environment.  They hear and read stories about coral reef bleaching and collapses, urban runoff, de-oxygenated coastal zones, mysterious fish and marine mammal die-offs and are worried.   While it isn’t a good idea to link these issues without science to things like Fukushima Radiation, it is healthy for every day people to be engaged in the plight of the marine environment.  We need people to get involved and to become educated on what we are doing to the oceans that we need to fix.  Awareness is not a bad thing, and while Laguna Beach is a place I like to shine the light on in terms of the need for us to protect, it is important to note that are mistreatment of the ocean and resulting pollution issues are found in varying degrees in every coastal environment that people live in.  Those areas are no less important and must be protected to.

Sea Star waste disease is a problem among many.  It has the attention of many because people are worried about Fukushima Radiation, people generally love star fish, and because people are beginning to see human survival tied to protecting our planet, a planet that is made up of close to 70% salt water!

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