MarineBusiness-World.com
 
 
News Home Cruising USA Cruising Int Photo Gallery
Sail-World.com : Killer solution for the Crown of Thorns starfish
Killer solution for the Crown of Thorns starfish

'Close up image of the Crown of Thorns Starfish.'    ARC Centre of Excellence Coral Reef Studies ©

An Australia-based team of marine scientists has established what may prove an effective control for the dreaded Crown of Thorns starfish (COTS), which intermittently ravages coral reefs across the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

With signs that the starfish is building up for another huge attack in the Pacific and Australian region, their solution could come in the nick of time.

The researchers, from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CoECRS) at James Cook University (JCU) have discovered that a harmless protein mixture used to grow bacteria in the laboratory can destroy the starfish in as little as 24 hours.

If subsequent tests show it is safe for other sea life, their breakthrough could yield a dramatic improvement in ability to control of COTS outbreaks, even if only to protect sites that are intensively used for tourism.

'A Crown of Thorns outbreak can destroy from 40-90 per cent of the corals on a reef. Over the past 50 years it has caused more damage than bleaching,' says Dr Jairo Rivera Posada 'There were massive outbreaks in many countries in the 1960s and 1980s – and a new one is well underway on the Great Barrier Reef.'

Dr. Posada, who trained as a vet before switching to marine research, was on the beach with Professor Morgan Pratchett of CoECRS at Lizard Island in the Northern Great Barrier Reef when he wondered if the substance he was using in the lab to selectively culture the Vibrio bacteria that naturally inhabit the starfish could give the bugs enough of a boost to damage their host.

Rushing back to their tanks, they quickly injected five starfish with the media culture solution – made from carbonates and proteins extracted from animal tissues – and were astonished when the starfish rapidly began to fall apart and die as the bacteria attacked them.

'I was only hoping to impair their immune systems – so the fact that they died so quickly was a great surprise,' Jairo says.

Looking more closely, the researchers found that the solution had caused the bacteria to bloom and attack the starfish; at the same time the starfish suffered an acute allergic reaction to the unfamiliar animal proteins (mainly derived from cattle). Furthermore, the bacteria also spread under favourable conditions to other starfish which came in contact or close to the infected individual.

Crown of Thorns Starfish eating a coral colony. -  ARC Centre of Excellence Coral Reef Studies ©  


This ‘double whammy effect caused by an otherwise harmless protein mixture has opened up the possibility of developing a safe, convenient and fast way of killing Crown of Thorns starfishes, explains Professor Morgan Pratchett of CoECRS and JCU.

'In developing a biological control you have to be very careful to target only the species you are aiming at, and be certain that it can cause no harm to other species or to the wider environment. This compound looks very promising from that standpoint – though there is a lot of tank testing still to do before we would ever consider trialling it in the sea.'

Prof. Pratchett says starfish outbreaks in the vicinity of specific tourist sites are currently controlled using a poison injection delivered by a diver – but we need to find more effective and efficient control methods if we are to scale-up control programs.

Dr. Rivera adds that 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. Nevertheless, stopping an established outbreak of millions of starfish will not be feasible. It is already too late to stop the current outbreak, they say.

'In the current COTS outbreak in the Philippines they removed as many as 87,000 starfish from a single beach. This gives you an idea of the numbers we have to deal with,' he adds. Other fresh COTS outbreaks have been reported from Guam, French Polynesia, Papua New Guinea, and the central Indian Ocean.

The team is about to embark on extensive testing to establish the technique is safe for use around corals, fish, other types of starfish, sea urchins and sea cucumbers.

They are also exploring other natural parasites and disease-causing organisms for controlling Crown of Thorns, as well as simple protein injections which trigger a fatal allergic reaction. However, any attempts to control these outbreaks will be futile without also addressing the root cause of outbreaks, including loss of starfish predators as well as increased nutrients that provide food for larval starfishes.

ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies website


by ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

  

Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall

http://www.sail-world.com/index.cfm?nid=102729

4:16 PM Mon 8 Oct 2012GMT


Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.







Cruising Canada

Five rescued after writing giant SOS by Courier Mail/Sail-World Cruising,










Irish student turns a mobile phone into a VHF radio by Niall Murray, Irish Examiner/Sail-World,








'Sailing Adventures in Paradise' by Vincent Bossley by Noonsite Reviewer/Sail-World,










Springtime Greening: Boaters Tips for Earth Day by BoatUS Foundation/Sail-World Cruising,








How sailors really do have a voice in the future of our oceans by Sandra Whitehouse, Sailors for the Sea,


Message-in-a-bottle record - 102 years by AFP/Sail-World Cruising,










Canadian solo sailor rescued north of Auckland by Sail-World Cruising round-up,


















Free online fuel spill course - how much do you know?
Smaller but plenty of space: The Nautitech Open 40
Product of the Week: Chafe guards save lines from friction
Government sneaks through the 'Affordable Boat Act'
Japan's Antarctic whaling program harpooned
Yacht of the Week: Kokomo III - and she could be yours
Life-shattering event sends 'rookie' couple sailing the world
Mysteries of the seas, happening right now - missing, sunk, foul play
Sail Norway and Russia this summer - your own boat, or charter
Sunshine4kids' 'Fleet of Hope' sets off again
3,200-year-old boat found in Croatian waters
Product of the Week: the LineGrabber
Mediterranean Mooring - How to moor stern-to to a dock or quay
Canadian storm bomb threat - sailors advised: get off the water!
Carbon monoxide poisoning - is it possible on YOUR boat?
Sailing family condemmed for taking 3-year-old on circumnavigation
New contract-free plan for satellite communicator on your smart phone
Yacht of the Week: The Dashew creation: no sails, but eco-friendly
No laughing! Sailing mistakes I don't want to make
Destination: From Moscow Sea to the White Sea
Land sailors of India on adventure across the Rann   
A Paint App to (almost) replace your marine store assistant   
Air warms but water slower - be careful, sailors, of hypothermia   
Volunteer Canadian rescue team homeless - any offers?   
Hilary Lister and Nashwa Al Kindi set a new trans-ocean record   
How to anchor and 'never utter a word'   
Non-pyrotechnic flares for my boat - Can I or can't I?   
Health benefits of sailing   
Cruising in the Maldives - some nuts and bolts   
ISAF Guide to Offshore Personal Safety for Racing and Cruising   
Halyard Tension - a video   
Winchrite - for lazy days or extra muscle-power   
Researcher examines 'current leaks' that may change the way you sail   
Paris off to attempt to circumnavigate the world again   
Need a tow from that helicopter? - watch the video and don't laugh   
Certain oil spill products shown to be ineffective and toxic + Video   
The Constrictor: a powerful 'Queen' of sailing knots!   
Boat painting - simple but best tips   
'It's never just one thing' - Swedish sailors rescued   
Book of the Week: From the Galley of...   


For this week's complete news stories select    Last 7 Days
   Search All News
For last month's complete news stories select    Last 30 Days
   Archive News







Sail-World.com  



















 
Our Advertisers are committed to our sport, please support them!
This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia Pty. Ltd and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.

Photographs are copyright by law. If you wish to use or buy a photograph you must contact the photographer directly (there is a hyperlink in most cases to their website, or do a Google search.) with your request.

Please do not contact Sail-World.com as we cannot give permission for use of other photographer’s images.

Only if the photographer named on the image is Sail-world.com, Powerboat-world.com, Marinebusiness-world.com or NZBoating-World.com.
Contact us .
Ph: +61 2 8006 1873 or complete our feedback form    Contact us .
   View our Privacy Policy.    [Go Home]     [  Banner Advertising Specification]    [Bot Archive ]

Customised news feeds -Marine Industry companies, Clubs and Associations have their own customised version of our news feed on their website.
Look_here_to_see_examples

X6XL NEW Cru CA