Tuesday, 12 April 2016

The Sea Star Plague - Interview

During this year's easter vacation on Moofushi, I had the great opportunity to interview some experts (Enzo Spine, Miles Crookers and Olivier de Guardia) regarding the current sea star plague which has already damaged some major parts of the Great Barrier Reef and now arrives the Maldives too. Please enjoy, a post with more detailed information about the Crown of Thrones will follow soon.

1. Since I have been here last year in order to start my project, a lot has changed here on Moofushi and on the Maldives in general. Does this change have the same background as the current problem in the Great Barrier Reef - the sea star plague?

The problem of the Crown of Thorns has been present in the Maldives for over 10 years, but in the last 2 to 3 years to problems has escalated exponentially.

2. To what extend and which parts of the Maldives are fighting with this problem? How does it affect Moofushi?

The Problem seems to be arriving from the East part of the Maldives, However Moofushi is unaffected for the moment.

3. What is the reason for this sudden increase of the population? Does El NiƱo as well as the general climate change add to this?

The El nino is not the causes, some say there have been high spikes in the crown of thorns population due to chemical fertilisers running into coastal areas, or where waist pipes throw sewage into the oceans.

4. Does this type of sea star have any natural enemies?

The crown of thorns has few predators, The giant Triton shell is it main natural enemy, however these shells are sometimes used for tourist souvenirs, which of course is natures natural form of elimination, once removed from its habitat of course it can no longer eat its favourite food, the Crown of Thorns.
5. How are you dealing with this issue?

We are currently monitoring our local dive and snorkel sites for the existence of the crown of thorns, (fortunately the dives sites in and around Moofushi have not been compromised). Once we have located an area in which the starfish are present, we inject them with 20 mpg of normal household vinegar which ( we have to say unfortunately ) kills the Crown of Thorns.

6. Wouldn’t it be enough to resettle them?

As they leave millions of eggs at any one time, if not eliminated eventually they could eat all the local reefs. leaving nothing but empty coral heads and dead reefs behind them.

7. Who decided how to deal with the sea stars this why?

Maldivian Government

8. What happens with the dead see stars?

When they die, many different kinds of reef fish feed of them.

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