Melbourne, Oct 8: An Australia-based team of marine scientists has discovered what may prove an effective control for the dreaded Crown of Thorns starfish (COTS), which has been wiping out some of the world’s most valuable coral reefs.
A harmless protein mixture, used to grow bacteria in science labs, has been found to destroy the starfish in as little as 24 hours.
The breakthrough comes as new starfish outbreaks hit parts of the Great Barrier Reef and reef systems across the Asia Pacific.
The next step will be tests to show the protein is safe for other marine life, say researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University.
If there are no adverse effects, the discovery will provide a far more efficient tool to control outbreaks at sites critical for conservation and tourism.
“A crown of thorns outbreak can destroy from 40 to 90 per cent of the corals on a reef and over the past 50 years it has caused more damage than bleaching,” the Telegraph quoted researcher Dr Jairo Rivera Posada as saying.
“There were massive outbreaks in many countries in the 1960s and 1980s and a new one is well underway on the Great Barrier Reef.”
Currently starfish outbreaks at high-value sites are controlled by divers who inject them with poison.
“The protein solution needs only a single jab into a starfish, enabling a diver to kill as many as 500 crown of thorns in a single dive compared with 40 or so using the poison injection,” Dr Posada said. (ANI)