The species was depleted by disease, but there are signs starfish are coming back.

PHOTO BY KATIE CAMPBELL, COURTESY OF EARTHFIX  - A malformed juvenile starfish in Puget Sound.
Scientists say a starfish populations are recovering from a devastating die-off with help from a massive baby boom.

A wasting disease in 2014 took an unprecedented toll on sea stars up and down the West Coast.

It nearly wiped out the populations of starfish ecologist Bruce Menge has studied for decades with Oregon State University.

Then the babies started coming.

"To find one of these tiny sea stars was always sort of an exciting event because it was so rare," Menge said. "But in the spring and summer of 2015, most sites had lots of tiny little sea stars."

At one site, he counted hundreds of baby starfish in an area no bigger than his handprint. Now, those babies are getting bigger.

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