Stories are circulating today in the media with the shocking headline that “Starfish species kids eat each other”. Of course this isn’t all starfish or necessarily that shocking or uncommon in the animal world but in this story it is partially contributing to the potential demise of these particular kinds of starfish.
It looks like days may be numbered for the starfish species Parvulastra parvivipara and Parvulastra vivipara as they struggle to survive in their ever changing high stress environment. They are restricted to high intertidal pools of South Australia and Tasmania much due to their evolved lifestyle. Of course all the modern stresses the underwater eco-systems face mean this animal may not have time or ability to adapt and may not survive in the wild.
These starfish are haemaphrodites and in many cases, likely due to a lack of nearby mates, self fertilise. They keep embryos inside and release at juvenile stage but the young star nearby and often eat each other. This means of the few born even less make it to adulthood. For millions of years they have managed to survive but they are now looking increasingly likely to be gone from their natural environment as their low genetic diversity and inability to spread and populate could mean their ultimate end.
Of course the reality is that the stresses that may lead to this demise are likely a direct effect of our actions, not the fault of the starfish and it’s lifecycle. Animals should adapt and that’s reasonable in an ever changing world so when a species dies of an inability to survive natural change we can’t be too upset. However is our change part of the natural cycle of the planet? I think because we have awareness to change and affect it that it does not matter how natural or unnatural it is. We should be working to change our actions and who and what we affect.
What do you think?
For more on this starfish and it’s life read today’s news on NBC: http://www.nbcnews.com/science/no-sex-kids-eat-each-other-starfish-families-have-problem-6C10868514