Crown of Thorns Starfish Crisis

Crown of Thorns Starfish Crisis

Online Coral Reef Ecology Curriculum Video: Crown of Thorns Starfish Crisis

Do you know… what is the crown of thorns starfish crisis?

In this Crown of Thorns Starfish Crisis video, you’ll learn what crown of thorns starfish are and why they are the source of a crisis within our oceans.

The crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS for short), named for its bristling helmet of sharp venomous spines. These giant starfish, found in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, have up to 21 arms and can grow as large as a meter in diameter. They are a major coral predator and eat coral by extruding their stomach through their mouth and excrete digestive enzymes that allow them to absorb the dissolved coral tissue externally. Each night, a COTS can eat its own body area in coral, that adds up on average to 13 square meters of coral reef a year. During population spikes, clusters of COTS consume corals faster than they can grow and reproduce, changing vibrant ecosystems into lifeless graveyards.

To learn more, check out our online coral reef ecology curriculum:

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