This piece from VICE about an unknown plague affecting millions of starfish was equal parts fascinating and horrifying.
It is not uncommon for many species of sea stars to shed their arms in times of stress. When a curious child picks up a star out of a tide pool by one of its limbs, for instance, the star may jettison that arm in an effort to escape and regenerate it later. But Gong quickly understood that this was different. Her stars weren’t merely shedding their arms. They were tearing them off. They were tearing them off the way a man, lacking access to a sharp tool, might tear off one of his own arms: by using one arm to wrench the other out of its socket. “They twisted their arms together,” Gong said, “and they’d pull and pull and pull, until one of them came off. Then the arm walks away because it doesn’t know that it’s dead. It was horrific. They weren’t just dying. They were tearing themselves to pieces.”