09/10/2013 11:10 BST | Updated 23/01/2014 18:58 GMT

Dead Starfish Mystery Epidemic Leaves Experts Baffled (VIDEO)

Thousands of starfish are mysteriously dying in the waters off British Columbia, Canada.

Horrified divers have reported seeing just "single arms clinging to rock faces, with tube feet still moving.”

“[The starfish] seem to waste away, ‘deflate’ a little, and then just … disintegrate," one diver, Jonathan Martin, wrote, the National Geographic reported.


Vancouver Aquarium is ‘alarmed’ at the mass die-off of starfish

He described how the ocean floor was "absolutely littered with arms, oral discs, tube feet, gonads and gills."

"It was kind of creepy," he said.

Vancouver Aquarium has dubbed the epidemic Sea Star Wasting Syndrome.

“They’re gone. It’s amazing,” said Donna Gibbs, a research diver and taxonomist on the aquarium’s Howe Sound Research and Conservation group.

“Whatever hit them, it was like wildfire and just wiped them out.”

Aquarium staff don’t know the cause because they have had trouble gathering specimens for testing, as starfish that looked healthy in the ocean turned up as goo at the lab, The Vancouver Sun reported.

“We’re just not sure yet if it’s all the same thing,” Gibbs said. “They’re dying so fast," she told the newspaper.