Sea stars on the East Coast of the United States are under threat from an unknown pathogen. University of Rhode Island graduate student Caitlin DelSesto stumbled upon the sea star problem while collecting sea stars for a research project. Diseased sea stars are slimy, mushy, and may be missing all or some arms. More research could help identify the pathogen, but right now just finding sea stars along the coast is proving incredibly difficult. The pathogen is decimating the sea star population, so much so that researchers are asking the public to help find sea stars to help researchers study the pathogen. Researchers pointed out that this sort of outbreak, while worrisome, is not unheard of. Something similar happened in the 1990s and sea stars were able to recover after. Sources: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130723134250.htm
So it has happened before, and the sea stars recuperated. It is possible it will happen again, and it may be a normal process that happens periodically, we just haven’t been aware of it. Definitely more research is needed.