Recently, the annual “Earth Day” clean up dive had a slightly different focus as a Crown of Thorns starfish (COTs) management programme was in progress and so divers were needed for collection duties. Resident divers from the Marine Parks Authority / Seychelles Centre for Marine Research &Technology, Seychelles Islands Foundation, Seychelles Fishing Authority and Global Vision International joined the staff from MCSS and the Underwater Centre for two concerted control dives in northwest Mahe.
The two dive teams gather for a group photos after the clean-up / crown of thorns dives
The dives were a great success and 21 of the starfish were removed from two popular dive sites; each was measured, weighed and tube feet collected for genetic analysis by the University of Hawaii before disposal.
The starfish were fairly large with an average width of 32.95cm and average weight of 1.5kg which is characteristic of a managed population; small numbers of COTs are a necessary part of coral reef ecosystems as they tend to browse on fast growing corals giving slower growing corals a chance to flourish and thus increase the diversity of the reef.