Stuff to worry about #4: Starfish

Ha, ha, you thought you had escaped from the Stuff to Worry About series. Silly readers. I worry about so many things that I had to self-edit so you wouldn’t be getting Stuff to Worry About posts all the time.

There is a plague on starfish. You may read about it here. Basically, starfish are dying of this wasting disease where their arms fall off, and because I don’t want to be the only one having these nightmares, I am going to add that sometimes in the course of this disease their arms fall off and crawl away. 

Scientists are hoping they can figure it out ASAP. I will keep you posted.

  • Alice

    They walk away!? I’m going to be having nightmares tonight then.

    • Gin Jenny

      Yep, sorry about that. I could have kept it to myself, but then I’d be the only one having these nightmares.

  • NWK (@MumsyNancy)

    Welll…well, what can I say to ease your mind except that Jazz keeps asking (in Dog) when Jenny is coming to snuddle her. Also,…also, yuck. Ew. This is worse than the poor lil bats.

    • Gin Jenny

      Jazz! I will snuggle her all the time!

  • Alice

    What I want to know is why when I saw ‘starfish’ I thought your post said ‘echidna’ and when it didn’t, I was like ‘Oh, look at my smartness’ and then I found out that an echidna is in fact this:


    …which means I get this:

    • Gin Jenny

      Look at your smartness! Almost!

  • Jess – A Book Hoarder

    Well that’s disturbing.

    And I made the mistake of clicking on your article link…didn’t help the situation.

    • Gin Jenny

      Yep, it’s pretty bad. I didn’t watch the video because I couldn’t bear to. The article was sad enough.

  • Anbolyn Potter (@anbolynp)

    Oh, sad. I couldn’t bring myself to watch the video.

    • Gin Jenny

      Me either. What if it showed arms crawling away?

  • Athira

    That is the strangest thing I’ve seen. And saddest. I sure hope they figure out the issue. The video was pretty sad to watch.

    • Gin Jenny

      I hope they do too. If it’s radiation-related, I hope they’re able to do something about it pretty quickly. Poor starfish.

  • Katie @ Words for Worms

    What in the hell?! My husband makes jokes about my feet having minds of their own (they dance in my sleep.) Now I’m legit concerned that they’re going to fall off and go on their merry way!

    • Gin Jenny

      Hahahaha, I know! When I told my podcast partner Whiskey Jenny about this, she shrieked and said that was so scary because you and your arms are supposed to be in this together! Betrayal from within! (she said)

  • Alison

    I KNOW. UGH I saw an article about that as well and freaked out a bit. How do limbs just craw away?! Bleh, let’s hope it’s not contagious. 😉 Seriously though, I hope it isn’t. I like my legs.

    • Gin Jenny

      I like my legs too! The whole thing made me think of poor mopey Eeyore missing his tail.

  • Vasilly

    What?! I almost threw up reading this! Their arms fall off and walk away! Sometimes?! I had the same train of thought as Katie: what if our arms start doing it?!!!

    • Gin Jenny

      It would be awful! It would be like our arms and legs were zombies!

  • April Books & Wine


    That’s terrifying.

    • Gin Jenny


  • Ela

    I can’t bring myself to feel sorry for starfish; they’re pretty gross creatures anyway (all that stomach evacuation bit). They’ve been going, as species, for a lot longer than we have, and I suspect have weathered more ecological catastrophes than we can throw at them (speaking as a geologist).

    • Gin Jenny

      Indeed? That is very heartening! Tell me some gross things about starfish so I can stop feeling bad for them.

      • Ela

        Okay, you asked for it! This is an extract from my undergraduate palaeontology textbook – which has stuck with me when many other things about palaeontology have not:

        “Most modern starfish are voracious predators and feed on molluscs, in particular preying actively on bivalves. When a starfish such as Asterias locates a bivalve it climbs on top of it, engages the two valves with its suckered tube-feet, and for several minutes or longer pulls the two valves in opposite directions. Eventually the stress set up becomes too great for the bivalve’s adductor muscles, and the valves open slightly. The starfish then everts its stomach out of its mouth and squeezes it bit by bit inside the opened valves. Digestion of the soft parts [of the bivalve] takes place with the shell, and when feeding is complete the stomach returns inside the starfish again.” [italics mine]

        Isn’t that the grossest thing you ever heard?

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  • samantha1020

    The disturbing things that you worry about that now I will worry about. LOL! I swear that I’m going to have nightmares about starfish now. But seriously, how sad…and weird…and disturbing.

    • Gin Jenny

      Hahahahaha, I know, it wasn’t very nice of me to share BUT I HAD TO.

  • Jeanne

    I refuse to be disturbed by starfish (even by the description of dinnertime above). I think they’re cute. And they can regrow an arm!

  • Jeane

    Horrifying. The video was sad but I’m glad at least that someone noticed and it’s being investigated. And cool that they are recruiting the masses via internet to help document the problem.

    I don’t think all starfish can regrow arms… ?