the starfish live on or depend the bottom|Killer Starfish Ou

One of the most group of found on the reef are the . So named of their “spiny skin”, these are or (five point). Found only in the sea, they sea , stars,starsthe starfish live on or depend the bottomthe starfish live on or depend the bottom|Killer Starfish Ou, , sea and . One of their most trait is their to their , and limbs. They also have a water – a of fluid that gas , , and .

Pencil urchin

This sea cucumber is eviscerating its internal organs (sticky cuverian tubules) as a defense mechanism. It will quickly regenerate them.

This sea is its ( ) as a . It will them.


While most of these are to the of the reef, they often large which can have to the reef. Most are the that eat coral. In the , two are of most – the star () and the Crown-of- ( COTS). COTS in , are the most coral found on Indo- reefs.

of COTS in and Cook

Killer starfish: Two COTS feeding on the top and bottom of a table acroporid.

:Two COTS on the top and of a table .


the GRE,we’ve found of these in both and Cooklazada live, have seen the they can cause, and have both the and . In the Cook , the of these was such a that we a clean-up, as many of the from the reef as .

On the first seven we in the Lau ,we found no more than one or two COTS in each . We did reefs that are to have been badly by COTS 4-5 yearsthe starfish live on or depend the bottom, as by the of the coral (type of , their sizes and the of dead in ).

We in Cicia,and dove reefs. One of the most areas was in front of the . Very high coral cover made up of a of large (old) tablethe starfish live on or depend the bottom, and many other . From the reef crest to 30 m, most of the was in coral,often thick. As we the end of the divethe starfish live on or depend the bottom, I found an area with a of stark white coral . The first was COTS!! None were out , . We did a night dive, which is when COTS from the reef. We a few , and after more found an area with of these .

A large (1 m) table coral showing multiple lesions caused by several starfish (each circle is from one animal). Damage from COTS over several days.

A large (1 m) table coral by (each is from one ). from COTS over days.

Our dives the day on the of coral . It was to a area,a few along the reef with no signs of COTS to the north or south. Alexghiban live, my dive buddy and I then spent two dives these . Our catch, 229 over a two hour !! It was much more than in the Cook they had deep into the reef.

Dr. Andrew Bruckner measuring COTS.


We each of these (being of their ) to get a sense of the age of the . Many and small – an we had the of an . The to also over a area and was all . We did not find many that have been dead for long (a few to years) – most were white or in fine green algae and . What was most is that their was of what we’d seen in and the Cook . The deep reef was still . Most of the were found at the edge of the reef crest in 3-8 m depth, and only a few had begun to move (10-15 m depth).

Alex Dempsey and Dr. Andrew Bruckner collected 229 COTS in just two dives.

Alex and Dr. 229 COTS in just two dives.

/ by: 1-5 ; 6-7 Amy

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