Research out of the University of the Sunshine Coast, completed in partnership with the Australian institute of Marine Science (AIMS), has uncovered a potential way to manage the Great Barrier Reef’s biggest natural threat – the crown-of-thorns starfish. The secret weapon, it seems, is the scent of the rare giant sea snail.
As one of the main predators of the crown-of-thorns starfish, which has been responsible for 40 percent of coral loss over the past 30 years, it’s no wonder the giant sea snail instills fear in the starfish, but given they only eat about one a week, breeding the snails en masse isn’t feasible. However, the research team was able to identify the exact scent molecule which causes the crown-of-thorns-starfish to scamper. The team can then chemically synthesize the molecule and spread it in areas which need management, preventing the predator from breeding and allowing certain areas of the reef to thrive without the need for manual removal or poison.
Research conducted by Australian universities is important in discovering natural control solutions such as this. Thank you University of the Sunshine Coast for preserving the natural beauty of the Reef for future generations. Let’s continue to keep it clever, Australia.
How crown-of-thorns starfish reacts to the scent of the giant triton via Australian Institute of Marine Science:
More information about the Crown of Thorns Starfish (COTS) Control component of the Australian Government Reef Programme
[img source] The University of the Southern Cross bit.ly/1xuwlMg