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Posted Tue Aug 11 2009: from Globe and Mail:
Crown of Thorns starfish destroying Asian reefs
The predator starfish feeds on corals by spreading its stomach over them and using digestive enzymes to liquefy tissue. The researchers found large numbers of them in Halmahera, Indonesia, which lies at the heart of the Coral Triangle. During a research trip in December, they saw a stretch of reef measuring 10 kilometres in circumference completely wiped out. "It's quite a stark sight. The crown of thorns choose to eat some species, like staghorn corals, the branching corals disappear and you are left with just a rubble pit," Andrew Baird [said].... Dr. Baird said the outbreak was caused by poor water quality and could be an early warning of widespread reef decline. "Humans are exacerbating the problem because we put too many nutrients in the water," he said, referring to water pollution caused by sewerage and agriculture fertilizers. "There are lots of micro-algae and the larvae of the crown of thorns feed on the algae," said Dr. Baird, who was involved in the study.
[Read more stories about: algal bloom, coral bleaching, ecosystem interrelationships]
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