A new beer has been brewed with the goal of raising awareness about sea star wasting syndrome, a pandemic killing millions of sea stars along the U.S. Pacific Coast and across the country.
Reportedly the largest marine animal disease event in recorded history, sea star wasting syndrome describes a set of symptoms, including lesions and tissue decay on the arms and body of starfish that eventually cause parts of the creature to fall off and can lead to death.
The disease is becoming increasingly prevalent and affects sea stars in coastal habitats and aquariums alike, heavily impacting West Coast populations in particular since summer 2013, states the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans (PISCO), a large-scale, long-term monitoring and research program led by investigators at four universities along the U.S. West Coast: Oregon State University, UC Santa Cruz, Stanford University and UC Santa Barbara.
According to PISCO, the effects of sea star wasting syndrome can be devastating on sea star populations, meaning collaborative research and citizen efforts are vital.
Helping to raise awareness for the cause, the new beer, called Wasted Sea Star, is launching as part of a collaboration between PISCO, OSU and Rogue Ales & Spirits, with a portion of proceeds from the beer’s sale going toward PISCO’s wasting syndrome research.
Rogue Brewmaster John Maier crafted the beer using a new ingredient, purple corn nectar, to pay homage to a native species rapidly disappearing from the Oregon coastline, said Rogue Ales & Spirits. “Like these sea stars, the beer has a light reddish-purple hue. Like the beer, these sea stars call Newport, Ore. home.”
Lead PISCO-OSU investigator Bruce Menge, said, “We are extremely excited about this new partnership with Rogue to raise awareness about the importance of sea stars to healthy ocean ecosystems. Rogue’s new beer also recognizes the efforts of investigators across the country who are collaborating to understand this disease and its impacts.”
“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,” added PISCO program coordinator Kristen Milligan.
Wasted Sea Star is available at all Rogue locations and throughout the states of Oregon, Washington and California starting in June. It will be available nationwide throughout the summer.