A group of scientists in
Australia has announced this week an potentially effective way to
eliminate the destructive starfish, crown of thorns, that are
feasting on coral reefs in the Pacific ocean.
The crown of thorns is
already prominent in the Pacific and Indian Ocean where they feed
mainly on coral polyps. Outbreaks of the large and poisonous
starfish are blamed for the massive destruction of corals.
The Great Barrier Reef is
located in the northeastern coast of Australia and composed of
thousands of reef formations. The report by Australian Institute
of Marine Science showed that almost half of the coral reef is
gone compared to its size 30 years ago.
Clearly, the first phase
would be to remove the voracious eaters, starfish, and convince
farming operations to reduce their chemical-laden runoffs that
victimize coral, and in some cases even support the starfish
James Cook University in
Queensland announced their discovery of a bacteria culture that
could help in preserving the Great Barrier Reef by killing the
culprit, starfish. The protein mixture where the bacteria is
cultured was discovered to be capable of destroying starfish
within 24 hours.
According to researchers
of the ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at the
university, the next phase will deal with determining how safe
the protein is when it comes to other marine life.
"In developing a
biological control you have to be very careful to target only the
species you are aiming at, and be certain that it can cause no
harm to other species or to the wider environment. This compound
looks very promising from that standpoint - though there is a lot
of tank testing still to do before we would ever consider
trialing it in the sea," said Professor Morgan Pratchett of the
However, this discovery
alone is not enough to curb the massive outbreaks of starfish
being seen today.
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