Household Vinegar Kills Crown-Of-Thorns Sea Star

The crown-of-thorns sea star is devastating corals on Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

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Researcher Lisa Bostrom Einarsson injects vinegar into a crown-of-thorns sea star.
John Virata

The crown-of-thorns sea star (Acanthaster planci), a coral eating menace on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef that is capable of eating up to a foot of coral everyday can be easily killed with an injection of plain household vinegar, according to scientists at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS). The scientists conducted several trials, injecting the sea star, which got its name from the venomous thorn-like spines that cover the upper portion of its body, and concluded that household vinegar provides a 100 percent mortality rate.  The researchers say that while the vinegar kills the crown-of-thorn sea star, they still have to determine if the vinegar is safe for other marine organisms that would be in the vicinity of the coral eater.

“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.  She said that the vinegar eradication method, if implemented, is not enough to save the Great Barrier Reef, but it could help to save individual reefs on the Great Barrier Reef.

The reef has seen a 50 percent decline in coral cover, which researchers believe is caused by the crown-of-thorns sea star and cyclones. They believe the huge populations of the starfish is attributed to land based agricultural runoff, which is full of nutrients that increase the amount of food, phytoplankton, that the starfish larvae feed on.

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Fish · Lifestyle