GMA News Online

Negros authorities probe starfish infestation

November 23, 2011 9:00am
Authorities in Negros Oriental are investigating a suspected infestation of the deadly Crown of Thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) on coral reefs in Siit in Siaton town.

The investigation stemmed from freelance photographer-scuba diver Steve De Neef's photos of a sudden, strange bloom of the sea creatures on coral reefs, Visayan Daily Star reported on Tuesday.

The report said Mercy Teves, chief of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Division, sent staff members to Siaton town to assess the situation, help in the clean-up and the harvesting of the crown of thorns starfish.

A survey is also being conducted to determine the extent of the infestation.

Crown of Thorns starfish are considered nocturnal coral reef predators, the report said.

The Crown of Thorn feeds on the reef, and an outbreak or massive infestation can destroy a reef very quickly, De Neef said.

In the last two to three weeks, more than 12,000 Crown of Thorns starfish were collected by some scuba divers and about four fishermen, De Neef said.

De Neef said in one night dive alone, the last on Sunday, they collected 1,067 Acanthaster planci, which they took to the mountains and burned.

He said 80 to 90 percent of those collected were juvenile.

The report said some resort owners have offered an incentive of P3 per Crown of Thorn starfish collected. - VVP, GMA News
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