The starfish that has venomous thorns covering its body, may be killed will an injection of household vinegar, researchers suggest.
On the Great Barrier Reef, there is a numerous population of Acanthaster planci, also know as crown-of-thorns sea star or starfish, which are destroying all the coral in the area.
When the crown-of-thorns starfish population is at low densities, the rate at which it feeds on the coral is lower than the re-growth rate of the coral. However, when there is a high population density of crown-of-thorns starfish, the coral does not stand a chance and its population drops.
The crown-of-thorns starfish usually feed on reef coral polyps. The starfish gets close to the coral and then it ejects its stomach through its mouth. The stomach secretes digestive enzymes which help liquefy the coral tissue so that the crown-of-thorns starfish is able to absorb all the nutrients. Each year, the starfish eats about 65 square feet (6 square meters) of coral reef.
A study conducted by the Australian Institute of Marine Science, found that the coral reef has dropped by 50 percent in the past 30 years and that the crown-of-thorns starfish is responsible for approximately half of the damage.
Over the past few years, the crown-of-thorns starfish have become a problem especially in the Great Barrier Reef region, as their numbers have multiplied and they now pose a threat to the corals. Experts estimate that about 40 percent of the Great Barrier Reef decrease is because of the numerous crown-of-thorns starfish.
“It has been estimated there are between 4 and 12 million of the starfish on the Great Barrier Reef alone and each female produce around 65 million eggs in a single breeding season. They managed to kill around 350 000 last year with two full-time boat crews. While it would take an insane effort to cull them all that way, we know that sustained efforts can save individual reefs,” stated Lisa Bostrom-Einarsson, a marine biologist.
Lisa Bostrom-Einarsson found that regular household vinegar has a 100 percent kill rate among crown-of-thorns starfish. At the Queensland University of Technology the researchers are currently developing a robot they may be used in order to administer the vinegar dose to the crown-of-thorns starfish and it is called COTSBot.
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