Crown of Thorns Starfish Outbreaks
We all know about the worldwide crisis coral reefs are facing on a day-to-day basis. From overfishing, pollution, climate change and chemical disruption via personal care products such as face wash and sunscreen. But some corals face an additional problem: being eaten by a giant seastar!
Outbreaks of Crown of Thorns Starfish (COTS) pose a significant threat to coral reefs in the Indo-pacific region. According to the Living Ocean Foundation, these starfish often exceed 1,000 animals per hectare and can destroy an entire reef system in a matter of weeks.
One way of being an ocean warrior and ensuring your decisions reflect best practice for our environment is choosing an eco-conscious travel operator. Trying to choose the most responsible marine tourism operators while travelling can help to preserve these delicate ecosystems.
Meridian Adventure Dive has been active in the removal of these little critters since our inception in 2017. Monthly expeditions ensure we remove these infestations and record the data for further research purposes.
It is believed the seastars were introduced to the reef through the ballast water of passing cargo ships, and with few predators in Indonesian waters, they have thrived. COTS are known to grow up to half a metre wide and are the second largest starfish in the world. The Living Oceans Foundation also mentions that a single COTS can devour 10 square metres of coral a year. They truly have a significant appetite and can cause great havoc.
Another unknown fact about these predators of coral is that they are covered in venomous spines, making them notoriously difficult to remove which requires special gear. Wherever you may be, ensure you ask your dive resort about invasive species and keep a look-out during your dives for infestations.
Situated in Raja Ampat, Indonesia, Meridian Adventure Dive is a PADI 5 Star Resort and winner of the PADI Green Star award. Scuba divers enjoy our professional services that have become synonymous with both the PADI and Meridian Adventure names. Raja Ampat is one of Indonesia’s most captivating diving grounds and is truly a paradise on earth.
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