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COT vinegar mainJames Cook University

Vinegar Could Kill Crown-Of-Thorns

Researchers have found that household vinegar has a 100% kill rate of the aggressive crown-of-thorns starfish

A study by researchers of Australia's James Cook University has found that injecting the coral-eating starfish with household vinegar is as effective as the currently used drug, and is also a lot cheaper and easier to source. 

Lead author of the paper Lisa Boström-Einarsson explains: 'Currently divers use 10 or 12ml of ox-bile to kill each CoTS [crown-of-thorns starfish]. It’s expensive, requires permits and has to be mixed to the right concentration. We used 20ml of vinegar, which is half the price and can be bought off the shelf at any local supermarket.'

During the trial period, all crown-of-thorns starfish died within 48 hours of being injected.

'There’s no reason to think it won’t work,' Ms Boström-Einarsson said, adding that more elaborate field trials are planned for the end of this year to ensure the procedure bears no harmful side effects for other marine life. 

While the findings are considered to be a major breakthrough in the fight against the aggressive species, culling crown-of-thorns one-by-one may help control the population but won't eradicate the problem. 

In a similar effort, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology have developed an underwater robot which injects crown-of-thorns with the lethal drug.

'It has been estimated there are between four and 12 million of the starfish on the Great Barrier Reef alone and each female produces around 65 million eggs in a single breeding season. They managed to kill around 350,000 [starfish] last year with two full-time boat crews. While it would take an insane effort to cull them all that way, we know that sustained efforts can save individual reefs,' Ms Boström-Einarsson said.

At the moment, killing the starfish one-by-one is the only available method, Ms Boström-Einarsson said.




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