The Great Barrier Reef has long been plagued by an intrusive invertebrate called crown-of-thorns starfish, precisely, for more than 40 years. These pests generally prey on corals and other small marine animals.
What can a starfish do in order to cause such a fuss? In fact, the starfish is so harmful to the environment that it ended up being placed second by the Australian Institute of Marine Science on a list of biggest threats for the Great Barrier Reef, with tropical cyclones topping the list.
A research team announced recently that they found an easy and effective method of extermination these pests. Not only that their method is affordable, but it is also eco-friendly. So what is it? Vinegar.
The team of biologists say that by injecting vinegar into crown-of-thorns starfish they will die within a couple of days. Vinegar was used in the past to remove various pests, but this vinegar has suffered several modifications, making it 100% effective against the pests. The recipe was device by researchers from James Cook University in Queensland, Australia.
Previously, researches used ox bile to kill these starfish, which is a supplement that helps digestion. But the disadvantages of this substance is that it is far more expensive than vinegar, and it also cannot be found just on any shelves in local stores.
Moreover, researchers claimed that tiny amounts of vinegar are needed in order finish off full-grown starfish. 20 ml can kill a starfish in less than 2 days. The lead author of the study, Lisa Bostrom-Einarsson, who is a researcher at the College of Marine and Environmental Sciences, declared that she and her team first need to test their vinegar formula in the sea to make sure that it does not affect the health of other marine animals.
Bostrom-Einarsson claims that so far this is the only eco-friendly solution they got, and even though manually injecting each and every crown-of-thorns starfish from the region is time-consuming, she believes that it is achievable. In fact, last year alone a couple of crews were able to finish off more than 350,000 pests from the Great Barrier Reef, using ox bile.
However, records say that a starfish female can lay as much as 60 million eggs a year. And the current stats estimate that there could be almost 12 million starfish in the Great Barrier Reef right now.
Bostrom-Einarsson is aware of that, but she is confident that they can at least save several individual reefs, depending on their importance. She and her team are planning to test the vinegar method at the end of the year.
Photo Credits flickr.com