This allowed the team to see through the robot's cameras, verify every crown-of-thorns starfish
it identified, and approve injections of the pests before they happened.
And the picture in this El Nino year of 2016 is worrying: In the Maldives, both coral bleaching (where hot water stresses and eventually kills corals) and crown-of-thorns starfish
can be considered 'natural' events.
It feeds on other molluscs and starfish, including the crown-of-thorns starfish
The colourful coral faces a number of pressures including climate change, poor water quality from land-based runoff, the crown-of-thorns starfish
, which eat coral, and the impacts of coastal development and fishing.
The world's largest living organism has shrunk by about half over the past 30 years as a result of climate change, ocean acidification, pollution and crown-of-thorns starfish
, which prey on coral, the Independent reported.
They tracked populations of coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish
and found that even low-intensity fishing of the starfish's predators enabled it to multiply significantly and destroy the reef.
They found even light levels of fishing caused populations of the coral-consuming crown-of-thorns starfish
to grow because this removed the starfish's predators, such as wrasse and triggerfish, from the sea.
Chemistry professor Daisuke Uemura told the 2000 International Chemical Congress of Pacific Basin Societies hosted by the American Chemical Society (ACS) that his team found that arachidonic acid and a-linolenic acid in sea urchins attract crown-of-thorns starfish
For example, the significant genetic differentiation of Hawaiian milkfish (Winans 1980) and crown-of-thorns starfish
(Nishida and Lucas 1988) populations was thought the result of the isolation of these populations from those in the Central Pacific by the east-west South Equatorial Current.
This work was funded by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority through the Crown-of-Thorns Starfish
The crown-of-thorns starfish
made a big splash in the mid-1960s--and another in the early 1980s--when unusually large numbers of the species devastated live coral on Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
Excess nitrates have also been linked to crown-of-thorns starfish
outbreaks and declining condition of inshore coral in the Great Barrier Reef.