Crown-of-thorns Starfish

The crown-of-thorns-starfish is a native species living throughout the Indo Pacific Region and specifically the Australian Great Barrier Reef. These creatures, named after the thick venomous spikes on their arms, find and feed on coral. The crown-of-thorns-starfish have the important job of eating fast growing coral species so the slow growing coral can maintain groups and keep up the reefs variety of corals. However, the starfishes consumption of coral isn’t the issue; Over the past few decades a series major outbreaks of these creatures has seen the decline of coral reefs for the coral is being consumed at a higher rate than the coral can grow back.

The outbreak of starfish has had and is having a major impact on the coral reefs they inhabit. These creatures are spawning and spreading by the thousands, in fact there is thought to be more than one million of these starfish actively feeding on the coral reefs throughout the Indo Pacific Region. Once the population of feeding starfish exceeds a natural number of these creatures the reef will be so badly damaged, the prospect of regrowth is an impossibility. When a crown-of-thorns-starfish outbreak occurs the reefs health and welfare is serious danger.

Fortunately, there are ways of culling the starfish in attempts of controlling the outbreaks; Scientists have recently come up with a one-shot poison that takes about 20 seconds per starfish. This is very time efficient compared to the old shot which took 6 minutes per starfish, as they had to inject inject the bell five times and every single one of the arms. The only way of removing them from the ocean requires divers to pick them up one-by-one with metal tongs, then bring them to shore for burial. Both of these process, although they appear to be simple, quick, are not effective enough when it comes to the overall management of the outbreaks. However, marine specialists and organisations are working hard to keep these outbreaks under control and ultimately prevent the outbreaks from occurring in the first place. For example, the Australian Government spend 1.4 million dollars on the culling of 60,00 crown-of-thorns-starfish located in the Great Barrier Reef.

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Bibliography

“Crown-of-thorns starfish – GBRMPA.” Gbrmpa.gov.au, 2013. Web. 26 Nov 2013. <http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/about-the-reef/animals/crown-of-thorns-starfish>.

“Starfish threatens famed Philippine coral reefs.” Phys.org, 2013. Web. 26 Nov 2013. <http://phys.org/news/2013-05-starfish-threatens-famed-philippine-coral.html#jCp>.

“CRC Reef Research Centre.” Reef.crc.org.au, 2013. Web. 26 Nov 2013. <http://www.reef.crc.org.au/discover/plantsanimals/cots/>.

“Fears crown of thorns starfish plague will wreak havoc on Great Barrier Ree…: EBSCOhost.”Web.ebscohost.com, 2013. Web. 26 Nov 2013. <http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?sid=1f27cccb-7cb1-4fbb-b41d-058f3a92408a%40sessionmgr114&vid=1&hid=120&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=anh&AN=P6S102696276613>.

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