As a biology undergraduate student at the University of Victoria, I had many animal behavior labs and research papers to read through about the voracious sea-floor predator Pycnopodia helianthoides, the sunflower star. The mere presence of one of these guys will send scallops swimming for their lives or anemones shriveling up for protection.
The latest news about this pervasive species (and other related sea star species) is not good. Sea Star Wasting Syndrome is causing them to melt into goo, and we're not sure of the cause. Scientists are testing several theories, including viral infection and a rise in sea water temperature. Whatever the cause, Sea Star Wasting Syndrome is hitting hard and fast with widespread devastation.
This interesting article from www.themarinedetective.com sheds some light on this emerging phenomenon.
Link: Wasted. What is happening to the sea stars of the NE Pacific Ocean?
Photo and descriptor – Neil McDaniel; http://www.seastarsofthepacificnorthwest.info