By now, scientists have made it clear that global warming is injuring the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. But, there is another culprit behind their destruction and increasing concerns — the predator crown-of-thorns starfish.
These seastars can occur in plague proportions, eating away coral in their path all their live. And, this is reducing the size and viability of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef drastically.
The Crown-of-thorns — Acathaster planci — are found to be most active during the summer season and are the only known venomous sea star. These crown-of-thorns starfish are voracious predators and can eventually wipe out large areas of coral reef. An individual starfish can consume up to 6 square metres of living reef per year!
Quite often, outbreaks of the species occur with the increase in the ocean temperatures and nutrient levels.
Some of the starfish’s major predators — like humphead wrasse and giant triton — usually keep the species in check. But, Unfortunately they have declined in recent years, courtesy to overfishing.
WWF-Philippines CEO Lory Tan said,
We are experiencing a return of the starfish in greater numbers. The situation facing our reefs is far from normal.