Scientists from the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) found an easy way to protect the Great Barrier of Australia from the ‘reef-eatingcrown-of-thorn starfish. After several trials, it was found that an injection of household vinegar provides a 100% mortality rate.

Scientists in Australia have been concerned about the increasing destruction of the Reef. With an area that covers approximately 344,400 square kilometres in northeast Australia, The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest reef system. It gathers about 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands.

Dr Katharina Fabricius, AIMS principal research scientist told to BBC that “coral cover is half of what it was 27 years ago, coral cover is going down at an alarming rate. The biggest culprit is the Crown of Thorns Starfish”, in February of 2015.

Crown-of-thorns starfish presents a growing threat to the Great Barrier Reef. Credit: Youtube

The crown-of-thorn starfish, Acanthaster planci, is found throughout the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The thorn-like venomous spines placed in their surface give the name to one of the largest sea stars in the world. They live on corals, killing them and destructing the reef’s ecosystem

“For that, vinegar is a great method. Vinegar can be bought at any supermarket and is roughly half the price,” lead researcher Lisa Bostrom-Einarsson from James Cook University told the BBC’s Rone McFarlane.

With an increasing alarming rate of crown-of-thorn starfish populations in the past years in Australia, scientists were desperate to find a solution. This is due to the movement of nutrients from the land to the sea, causing starfish populations to increase, according to the researchers.

They will apply the lethal injection to the starfishes using a robot called COTSBOT, developed by researchers of the Queensland University of Technology. “This system has been trained to recognise crown-of-thorns starfish from among a vast range of corals using thousands of still images of the reef and videos taken by COTS-eradicating divers”, said Matthew Dunbabin to BBC.

However, Lisa Bostrom-Einarsson points out that “the method is not enough to save the Great Barrier Reef, she said, but could help save individual reefs in the meantime.”

Source: BBC News