Divers slaughter starfish in order to save Samoa reef
A visitor puts a hand on the glass surface of a tank where a starfish sticks to it at Sunshine Aquarium in Tokyo, Saturday, July 14, 2012.(AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)
Published Friday, February 8, 2013 8:08AM EST
PAGO PAGO, American Samoa -- National Park Service divers have killed almost 90 crown-of-thorn starfish in waters off American Samoa to protect the reef.
The park service said Thursday a single alamea starfish may eat more than 100 square feet of living coral in a year. Alamea devoured more than 80 per cent of American Samoa's reefs in 1977, the last time there was an outbreak.
Federal and territorial officials are working together combat the latest outbreak. They recently held a joint meeting to discuss ways to eradicate the starfish before the population explodes the way it did 36 years ago.
The park service says human activity apparently causes the outbreaks.
Human development causes more fertilizer and waste to flow into the ocean, feeding phytoplankton eaten by alamea larvae.