NEWPORT, Ore. - Oregon State University and the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans, or PISCO, have a new ally in their efforts to study and address sea star wasting disease, a serious epidemic that has hit the North American West Coast.
This partner is reported to be light and crisp, with a red or purplish hue and a unique flavor that comes from the purple corn nectar used to brew it. It's sold in a tall, 22-ounce bottle, and best served cold.
As part of a larger effort to learn more about the deadly disease that has devastated sea stars in some places on the Oregon coast, a craft brewery in Newport, Ore., has announced the sale of Wasted Sea Star Purple Pale Ale. Rogue Ales and Spirits today will hold a celebration that includes a beer christening and discussion about this disease outbreak.
The Rogue Ale brewers, who are concerned about this disease in Oregon coastal waters, plan to donate a portion of the income from sales of this product to support research done by OSU and PISCO scientists. More information on Rogue Ales and Spirits' new ale is available online at www.rogue.com/roguenews
"We are extremely excited about this new partnership with Rogue to raise awareness about the importance of sea stars to healthy ocean ecosystems," said Bruce Menge, the lead PISCO-OSU investigator. "Rogue's new beer also recognizes the efforts of investigators across the country who are collaborating to understand this disease and its impacts."
Kristen Milligan, PISCO program coordinator, said, "This is an excellent example of an industry-academia partnership that can help educate, at the same time as helping to support the necessary science."
Last year there was an unprecedented outbreak of sea star wasting disease on the Oregon coast, causing sea stars to lose arms, disintegrate and die over the course of a week or less. Today in Oregon, adult ochre star populations in the rocky intertidal zone are down dramatically from a year ago - anywhere from 30-80 percent less, depending on the location.
Researchers are carefully monitoring the survival of young sea stars, which are appearing at most locations along the coast in great numbers and offer some hope for population recovery.
Sea stars are an important part of marine ecosystems, in part because they attack mussels and keep their populations under control. Without enough sea stars, mussel populations can expand and grow over algae and other small invertebrates. The very concept of a "keystone predator" came from work in 1969 that used the purple ochre sea star as a model.
OSU researchers and students are working both to monitor and address this problem, in collaboration with a number of Oregon public and private agencies, and their PISCO partners at the University of California/Santa Cruz, UC/Santa Barbara, and Stanford University.
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Kristen Milligan, 541-737-8862