On the Air: March 29, 2015
Biologists are transplanting sponges to rebuild sponge beds in the Florida Keys. Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

If your flower garden gets wiped out by a hard freeze, you can either plant new seeds and wait for them to grow, or you can plant whole flowers. They both work, but one of them gives you faster results.

Biologists are testing the “faster” method to restore sponge beds in the Florida Keys. They’re transplanting sponges from healthy beds to some that have been damaged by red tides and other causes. The hope is that the transplants will cut years off the time required to rebuild the beds.

In Print: March 1, 2015
This sea star is suffering from wasting disease, which causes sea stars to disintegrate in a matter of days. Credit: Kevin Lafferty, USGS.

When a sea star (a.k.a. starfish) develops wasting syndrome, the disease hits hard and fast. Lesions appear on the star’s tough outer skin. Then the tissue around those white sores begins to decay. The sea stars “deflate” and lose control of their five limbs, which curl and twist and eventually begin disintegrating. The starfish gradually “melts” into nothing.