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Australia scientists tackle reef-killing starfish

Published on Oct 8, 2012 12:22 PM
An undated file handout photo received from Australian Institute of Marine Science on October 2, 2012 shows the coral eating starfish at Australia's Great Barrier Reef which has lost more than half its coral cover in the past 27 years due to storms, poisonous starfish and bleaching linked to climate change, a study has found. -- PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (AFP) - An Australian research team said on Monday they have found an effective way to kill the destructive crown-of-thorns starfish, which is devastating coral reefs across the Pacific and Indian oceans.

The discovery by James Cook University's Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies in Queensland state comes after a study showed the Great Barrier Reef had lost more than half its coral cover in the past 27 years.

Outbreaks of the large, poisonous and spiny starfish, which feast on coral polyps, was linked to 42 per cent of the destruction.

Researchers said they have developed a culture that infects the starfish with bacteria and can destroy them in as little as 24 hours.

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