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Counting Stars for Science

Introducing, the Citizen Science Program, where regular folk can play a valuable role in advancing research in our community.

The Strawberry Isle Marine Research Society (SIMRS) is currently seeking volunteers to assist with a Sea Star project on our coast. Data collected in the field will help scientists track the spread of marine disease and how it affects the surrounding ecosystem.

What’s a Sea Star, you ask? 

A Sea Star is a carnivorous invertebrate that lives in the intertidal zone along our local shores. There are roughly 1600 living species of stars around the world. A Sea Star makes up for its lack of backbone with five arms and spiny skin. A fun fact about these beautiful little creatures is that when a sea star loses an arm, it can grow a new one. Within those arms are tube-like feet that enable strong suction for clinging to wave-battered rocks and moving along the ocean floor with ease.

Why count stars? 

Since 2013, researchers have been tracking a mysterious disease affecting Sea Stars in the Pacific Ocean. Impacting more than 20 species, this mortality event has decimated many unique populations. Much of what is known of the disease is largely due to long-term shoreline monitoring. Scientists are now keeping a close eye on the density and diversity of stars along our beaches.

These types of studies also allow exploration of the changes within these intertidal communities and how they’ve responded to the absence of such a dominant predator.

Want to learn more?

Elevate your Ocean Village getaway, join the fun and sign up with SIMRS to join the Tofino Sea Star counting crew – full details in the link below: