The Vanuatu Fisheries Department and IRD are actively seeking crown of thorns (COT) starfish all over the country. Large missions will be organised to get rid of them before they eat Vanuatu’s reefs. In order to do so, reports are important.
The Fisheries Department now have a powerful tool, an online reporting page, that makes it very easy for individuals to report crown of thorns sightings. It only works if everybody gets involved and uses it! From time to time, grab a snorkel and a mask, swim a little around where you live, count how many you see, and report it here: http://www.fisheries.gov.vu/in…/crowns-of-thorns/reports-cot. Even if you see none, report as well, as that is also useful information. It is very easy!
Crown of thorns i wanem?
The large, coral-eating starfish Acanthaster planci (crown of thorns or COT) is a major cause of coral reef disturbance, whose impact is quantitatively comparable to cyclones. These starfish are a natural parts of the ecosystem and generally occur at very low densities (typically < 1 individual / hectare). However, populations can dramatically increase during certain periods called ‘outbreaks’ to reach thousands of individuals per hectare, and then cause severe reef damage.
They are covered in spikes and have an large number of arms. This species is as colourful as it is invasive.
Over a third of Pacific reefs (including Vanuatu, Fiji, New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Australia, Palau, Guam, Samoa, Japan etc) are being affected by episodes of COTs outbreaks, which can lead to the almost total destruction of corals in the area.
Give your reef a hand and report any sighting!
For more information go to Fisheries Department.