Please be warned that the video you’ll find below contains imagery that might disturb some people. Starfish have been found tearing themselves apart, and that is shown below. News is coming out of a horrific plague amidst the world starfish population. Scientists are studying the phenomenon where the arms of starfish crawl away from the body until they are ripped apart, spilling the guts and killing the creature. You don’t even have to be a marine fan, or all that sympathetic to animals in general, to be appalled by this disease. It is disturbing in a fundamentally wrong way.

Starfish are capable of regenerating lost limbs under normal circumstances, but the disease doesn’t allow that to happen. Scientists are asking folks who are out at the beach that come across either dead or dying starfish in this manner to tweet photos out with the tag #sickstarfish. We’ll hopefully figure out what is happening, but watching the above video and realizing what’s happening is scary as hell. Even as someone with a love of science, I can’t help but think that this looks like some End Times hoodoo. Or worse yet, perhaps this is the first wave of an alien attack.

Starfish are important marine predators and if their numbers deplete it will have a devastating impact on the planet. Scientists have no idea where the pathogen comes from, or what it’s doing exactly. Whatever it is, it overrides the ever present survival instinct that is present in every species. That factor might be the most horrifying part of the issue. It’s sad to watch a creature tear itself apart, but as you realize a living being is doing this without outside force it becomes terrifying. If you do happen to come across the phenomenon, please use the #sickstarfish hashtag to help scientists get a handle on how far reaching the problem is, and to give as much data for study as possible.

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