sail-world.com
 
 
News Home Cruising Photo Gallery Video 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.







News - USA and the World

America's Cup: Rod Davis - Time for a change after ten years with team *Feature by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com/nz,




















Maxi yacht rendezvous this September in Sardinia by International Maxi Association,




















America's Cup: Team NZ wish Davis well with new team *Feature by Richard Gladwell, Sail-world.com/nz,


Fisher's View: Sailing perfection at Hamilton Island- Day 3 by Bob Fisher, Hamilton Island, Queensland




2014 Formula Kite World Championship Day 1 by Markus Schwendtner, Istanbul
















Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 CEO Knut Frostad talks (Part I) *Feature by Rob Kothe and the Sail-World team,




2014 CORK Olympic Classes Regatta - Day 3
2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games - Day 2
2014 IFDS World Championship: Opening Ceremony images
Opera House Cup - Images by Ingrid Abery
Teams descend upon Cowes for inaugural J/111 World Championships
Hamilton Island Race Week: Everywhere there's smiley people
IFDS World Championships - US Paralympic hopefuls ready for racing
Sopot Match Race - Poland's Tour debut deemed a triumph
Vineyard Race celebrates 80th running of the East Coast classic
Nanjing Youth Olympic Games: Young sailors begin racing on Lake Jinniu
AWT Quatro Desert Showdown - Victory for Morgan Noireaux
Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race - Day 8: Test of endurance
Bart's Bash: Over 2300 entered from 588 yacht clubs - Join here
Halifax ready to welcome the world at 2014 IFDS World Championships
RC44 World Championship title to Bronenosec + Video
Audi Hamilton Island Race Week: Day 2 Images by Crosbie Lorimer
IFDS Worlds - Gary Jobson to attend opening ceremonies
Melges 32 U.S. National Championship - Dalton DeVos crowned champion
2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games trailer
2014 Chicago Grand Slam - Canfield wins
Round Britain and Ireland Race - Varuna takes overall lead   
Audi Hamilton Island Race Week; Crosbie Lorimer Day 1 Images   
Fisher's View: Hamilton Island Race Week - Day 1 - Stayin' Alive   
CORK Olympic Classes Regatta 2014 - Day one   
Youth Olympics: practice over, athletes welcomed, time for YOG sailing   
Round Britain and Ireland Race - Record for Artemis-Team Endeavour   
2014 Melges 32 U.S. National Championship - Day 2   
Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland: Artemis sets fourth course record   
2014 Chicago Grand Slam - Top seeds survive as semi-finalists   
420 and 470 Junior Europeans - Breezy day 4 in Gdynia   
RC44 World Championship - Dramatic improvement for Artemis Racing   
18' Skiff International Regatta - Action begins August 25th   
Round Britain and Ireland Race - Challenging conditions arise   
Round Britain and Ireland Race - Record-breaking monohull victory   
Round Britain and Ireland Race - Dongfeng Race Team finishes third   
RC44 Marstrand World Championship - Bronenosec the star performer   
Bahamian Olympic Sailor to carry flag in honour of Sir Durward Knowles   
Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race: Records continue to tumble   
Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race: Course Record for Team SCA   
Round Britain and Ireland Race - Team Alvimedica completes the race   


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  


















Switch Default Region to:

Social Media

Asia

Australia

Canada

Europe

New Zealand

United Kingdom


http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/Twitter_logo_small.png http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/FaceBook-icon.png  http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/RSS-Icon.png

United States

Cruising Northern

Cruising Southern

MarineBusiness World

PowerBoat World

FishingBoating World

 

Contact

Commercial

News

Search

Contact Us

Advertisers Information

Submit news/events

Search Stories/Text

Feedback

Advertisers Directory

Newsletter Archive

Photo Gallery

 

Banner Advertising Details

Newsletter Subscribe

Video Gallery

Policies

 

 

 

Privacy Policy

 

 


Cookie Policy

 

 



This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.  Photographs are copyright by law.  If you wish to use or buy a photograph contact the photographer directly.
XLXL VIR US
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT