PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Researchers at the University of Rhode Island are trying to figure out what is killing starfish along the Atlantic Coast.

The university announced Tuesday that URI scientists are working with colleagues from Brown University and Roger Williams University to identify the disease, which is affecting starfish from New Jersey to Maine.

A university graduate student was one of the first to observe the disease when she noticed that starfish collected from Narragansett Bay were dying from unknown causes.

So many starfish have died from the illness that researchers are having a hard time finding specimens to study.

The university is asking local scuba divers to report any large populations of starfish.

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