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Oodles of orange and purple starfish have appeared. And that might be worth celebrating.

The Pacific Coast of the United States is just so. damn. beautiful.

Image from Jonathan.s.kt/Wikimedia Commons.


It's studded with tree-covered islands, little hidden coves, and driftwood-strewn beaches. It looks like a postcard. Heck, it looks like where two postcards would go to get married!

And one of the best things about it is the amazing animal life. There are pods of wild orca whales, magnificent sea lions, adorable sea otters, and the king-of-all-that-is-strange giant Pacific octopus. But it's not just the big animals that are awesome; the Pacific Coast's little guys are amazing too.

One of its most recognizable, and colorful, denizens is the ochre sea star.

Photo via iStock.

It's hard to miss their bright purple, pink, and orange bodies — they're like what happens if you let Lisa Frank design an invertebrate. They're a common sight in tide pools and intertidal zones.

At least, they were.

Sadly, a mystery virus has been wiping them out for the last few years.

In 2014, "sea star wasting disease" appeared in Oregon. The disease wasn't unique to ochre sea stars — it affects many different species — but they were hit especially hard. Affected animals get weak and then just sort of ... fall apart. Like they were made of wet tissue paper.

(If you want to see the kind-of-gross aftermath, you can follow this link).

Scientists quickly identified the disease as a type of virus, but that didn't help the sea stars. Since it appeared, it's proceeded to wipe out about four-fifths of the ochre sea star population. It's also spread up to Alaska and all the way down to Baja California.

Starfish help keep the coastline's ecosystem in balance, so losing them could be really bad.

While they might look like blobs of Play-Doh, sea stars are actually the tigers of the tide pool. They eat a ton of mussels; so many, in fact, that when starfish disappear, mussel populations explode to the point of crowding out other species.

This makes starfish what is known as a keystone species.

Like a bomb waiting to go off. Image from Andreas Tretpte/Wikimedia Commons.

But there's some good news! Because although we've lost a lot of adult sea stars in recent years, people are finding a TON of baby stars right now.

Photo from iStock.

Scientists from Oregon State University just published a paper announcing their discovery of the recent baby boom.

"The number of juveniles was off the charts — higher than we'd ever seen — as much as 300 times normal," said lead author Professor Bruce Menge in a press release.

Why so many babies? It didn't look like there were more born than usual. Instead, Menge believes it was because more babies survived than normal, possibly because fewer adults meant more food for the babies.

There's still a mystery though. Why did the virus strike now?

Image from D. Gordon E. Robertson/Wikimedia Commons.

The virus has probably been around for a long time. It's even been found in preserved starfish from as far back as the 1940s. And there have been smaller outbreaks in the past but nothing of this size.

So what's different now? We're not sure. Menge doesn't think it's from warmer ocean temperatures (which has been hurting other areas, like coral reefs), but there are other possibilities as well.

"Ocean acidification is one possibility, and we’re looking at that now," said Menge. "Ultimately, the cause seems likely to be multi-faceted."

Nevertheless, this is a good sign. The Earth can regenerate and heal.

It's too early to say that these new babies are safe, since the virus could strike again, but it's an awesome display of nature's ability to bounce back. Humanity hasn't always been kind to the ocean — we overfish, we dump trash, we pollute its waters — but the Earth is nothing if not resilient.

"Freddie Mercury" by kentarotakizawa is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Fans are thrilled to hear Freddie Mercury's iconic voice once again.

Freddie Mercury had a voice and a stage presence unlike any other in rock music history. His unique talents helped propel the band Queen to the top of music charts and created a loyal fan base around the world.

Sadly, the world lost that voice when Mercury died of AIDS at age 45. For decades, most of us have assumed we'd heard all the music we were going to hear from him.

However, according to Yahoo! Entertainment, remaining Queen members Roger Taylor and Brian May announced this summer that they had found a never-released song they'd recorded with Mercury in 1988 as they were working on the album "The Miracle."

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Lacy Marie uploaded a video from her doorbell camera to TikTok her son. The little boy is caught on camera taking the trash out venting about always having to eat chicken. He rants all the way to the trash can, being sure to get it out of his system before he makes it back into the house.

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Kevin Bozeat had that fact in mind when he fell ill while living in Taiwan and needed to go to the hospital. He didn't have insurance and he had no idea how much it was going to cost him. He shared the experience in a now-viral Facebook post he called "The Horrors of Socialized Medicine: A first hand experience."

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Arizona election official posts perfect response to woman who received two mail-in ballots

These kinds of clear, concise explanations are the best way to battle misinformation about how votes actually get counted.

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Since having elected leaders instead of kings is a hallmark of our democratic system, Americans share a common concern for election integrity. But for some, that concern has grown into full-blown conspiracy theories and misinformation about election fraud since before Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election.

Despite dozens of lawsuits either being dismissed as groundless or lost on their merit in court, people still try to claim that the 2020 election was rife with fraud.

One of the primary targets of those fraud claims is mail-in ballots. People haven't seemed to wrap their minds around how mail-in ballots can be secure and how people can be prevented from voting twice if they happen to have more than one ballot mailed to them.

Turning Point USA field rep Aubrey Savela shared a photo of two official Arizona ballots with her name on them to X, with the caption, "Maricopa county at its finest… My first time ever voting in a presidential preference election and I received not one but two mail-in ballots.Thank you @stephen_richer."

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So, someone who is excellent at remembering random facts won’t just remember that Grant is buried in Grant's Tomb. They will also remember that they learned it on a sunny day while on a walking tour of Riverside, New York.

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Hotel is giving away 10 all-expense-paid trips to help rebuild Patagonia hiking trail

Post your video entry by March 15 for a chance to do some good while exploring one of the world's most stunning ecosystems.

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If you've ever seen a photo like this…

hiking trail next to a lake in patagoniaHiking trail at Torres del Paine National Park in PatagoniaLas Torres Patagonia

…and thought, "I have to go see that turquoise water for myself," now's your chance. Las Torres Patagonia is offering an all-expense-paid trip (including airfare) for 10 lucky winners to travel to Torres del Paine National Park in Chile and stay at the all-inclusive Las Torres Patagonia hotel for five days.

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