Stunning Video Coverage by the Hakai Institute of Exciting New Study

Recently published in Science Advances, work by Dr. Harvell and her colleagues showed that anomalously warm sea surface temperatures coincided with the peak declines due to disease of the predatory sunflower star (Pycnopodia helianthoides). The precipitous decline of this important subtidal predator may have large ecosystem-level consequences. Learn more about this work covered by The AtlanticThe Seattle TimesThe Guardian, and in this stunning video coverage by the Hakai Institute.

Upcoming Book Release: Ocean Outbreak

Look out for Drew’s new book, Ocean Outbreak: Confronting the Rising Tide of Marine Disease, to be released April 2019. It is a tale of four ocean outbreaks–corals, abalone, salmon, and starfish–and the value of ecosystem services for a healthier ocean.


A healthy ocean is a lifeline for humanity, but the ocean’s health is at risk as epidemics devastate both habitat-forming species, like seagrasses and corals, and keystone species, like starfish and salmon. Humans have created a perfect storm of outbreak conditions: aquaculture and human sewage introduce new infections and fertilize existing ones, shipping spreads infections globally and warming incubates them. Infections in our oceans cause massive die-offs with sweeping ecological impacts. The loss of food harvested from the ocean and its monetary value to fishers impacts our economy. Pathogens incubated in a warming ocean threaten our very health. Ocean Outbreak explores the four biggest epidemics, taking the reader to the front lines of our confrontations with infectious diseases to investigate how four iconic marine animals have been devastated: starfish, abalone, salmon and coral reefs. The stories of these outbreaks reveal how we are tipping the balance in favor of pathogens, how detective work sleuths out the infectious agents and how environmental change amplifies their impact. Ocean Outbreak concludes by showing how we can find our way back to healthier seas, combating infection with nature’s own pathogen-fighting weapons.

Seagrass Bioremediation — Exciting New Publication in Science Journal

Hot off the press, ‘Seagrass ecosystems reduce exposure to bacterial pathogens of humans, fishes, and invertebrates’ makes the front cover of Science 17 Feb 2017. Joleah Lamb, our post-doctoral affiliate, along with her team found that coastal seagrasses reduce bacteria that are pathogenic to humans, fish, and invertebrates. This exciting study has been covered by The New York Times, BBC, and the Quirks & Quarks podcast, among others!