Crown of thorns starfish go through cyclical population booms which apparently upsets racist coral-curators.
CORAL-devouring crown of thorns starfish on the Great Barrier Reef could be thwarted by an infectious bacteria that has shown promising potential to kill the pest en masse.
Scientists at the Australian Institute of Marine Science have discovered a bacteria that occurs naturally in the starfish is fatal to the species in high doses.
The discovery is timely because the Far North tourism and scientific communities are concerned the conditions on the Reef are ripe for another outbreak of crown of thorns starfish.
Dr Peter Doherty, past research director of the institute, told the Cairns Post scientists injected a gel-like substance containing a “broth of nutrients” into the starfish, causing the bacteria to explode in numbers.
“It overwhelms the immune system of the healthy animal and kills it within days,” he said.
“It’s been demonstrated in a research tank that if you infect one starfish it spreads to others.”
The potential new control method will be discussed this week on Fitzroy Island when scientists gather to discuss ways to tackle the pest, which poses a significant threat to the Reef because it eats its size in coral every day.