Something fishy in Semporna

  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 29 Nov 2017

Crown of thorns starfish collected from a coral reef in the east coast Semporna district being dried before they are discarded. Divers feel they are fighting a losing battle in trying to contain the outbreak of the coral eating marine creatures.

KOTA KINABALU: A population surge in crown-of-thorns starfish (pic), which consume corals, is worrying the diving community in Semporna.

Divers noticed the sharp increase at some coral reefs near Semporna, the gateway to the renowned diving haven of Pulau Sipadan and the Tun Sakaran Marine Park.

Local divemaster Pius Angelo Mak said the divers were unsure what they should do to tackle the problem.

“A group of us started picking up these crown-of-thorns starfish about two weeks ago and drying them under the sun to kill them before casting the carcasses into the sea,” Pius said. “We’re not sure if this is right approach but it seemed the right thing to do.”

He said his group managed to collect about 220 starfish in an hour. “That’s only from a very small area,” he said, adding that its sheer numbers made it a challenge for the volunteers to avoid getting stung by the creatures’ venomous thorns.

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