Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Endangered by New Threat
Author: Nick Collins
Source: Calgary Herald
November 13, 2012
"Researchers are finding new species at unexplored depths - but the coral has a terrifying new enemy.
Two years ago, the Australian state of Queensland was hit by the worst flooding in living memory. Since then homes have been rebuilt and life on shore is back to normal. But out to sea the legacy of the deluge is yet another threat to the Great Barrier Reef, one of Earth’s most important ecosystems.
The floods spewed huge quantities of agricultural fertilisers into the Pacific and as a result millions of Crown of Thorns starfish have appeared in the central reef. The huge, carnivorous echinoderms, covered in poisonous spikes and measuring half a metre across, are capable of wiping out entire reef colonies in a horrific style. By forcing their stomachs out through their mouths they can digest a section of coral the size of a cushion in one gulp."
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