Prickly starfish threaten the waters just off tourist island Boracay


Teams of divers have begun their thorough and risky effort in waters off the famous tourist island of Boracay to free coral reefs and the seabed from huge, venomous crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS).

Haron Deo Vargas, a Boracay marine biologist of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office, reported that divers amassed 613 COTS at Tinig Reef and from nearby spots in Tambisaan, and Manocmanoc on June 14, Tuesday. 

According to Vargas, the undertaking is to hold back a COT outbreak which the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) considers when more than 20 of these preying starfish are found for every hectare of the seabed.  

Vargas said manual collection is the best way to prevent a COTS outbreak to ensure it is not harmful to the environment. Abrasive harvesting could destroy corals not yet ravaged by COTS existence. 

Another widespread technique is injecting vinegar into the COTs. Yet, only qualified divers can execute these tasks as COTs thorns can induce intense pain and swelling in divers that may come in contact with these species. 

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