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Starfish Destroying Great Barrier Reef
Crown-of-thorns Starfish Eating through famous coral reef (CCSS Level: Grade 9, Words: 570)
Jan 22, 2018 Science & Technology
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A breed of giant spiky starfish known as the crown-of-thorns starfish, have been eating away at the Great Barrier Reef since 1970. On healthy coral reefs, these coral-eating starfish feed on faster growing corals, and allow slower growing coral species to form colonies, which helps to increase coral diversity. But recent outbreaks of these starfish are one of the most significant threats to the Great Barrier Reef, as the starfish will only feed on coral flesh. "This starfish is not like a typical five-arm starfish," said Mike Hall at the Australian Institute of Marine Science. "They have more than a dozen arms and can be as large as a dinner plate, and they're always hungry." These starfish have protective spines all over their body that eject a neurotoxin, and consume the coral reefs by climbing and covering the reefs with their stomach to excrete a digestive juice to dissolve the coral flesh and suck it up. Attempts have been made to preserve the reef, such as trying to breed coral in places that are less prone to bleaching or replacing dead coral. Mike Hall stated that these methods will not be effective without controlling the starfish better. "If nothing's done about the crown-of thorns starfish, you're just producing more food for the starfish."

Since 2012, Australia has killed more than 600,000 of the starfish across the Reef. However, there are currently more than five million crown-of-thorns starfish on the reefs between Cooktown and Cairns. Recently, a team of 25 volunteer divers hunted for these starfish and injected them with bile salts. The salts then penetrated holes in the creature's cell walls and killed them within a day. However, this method is not effective in the long term as each starfish has to be injected individually and it is a costly and slow job. Instead, researchers from Australia and Japan have decoded the starfish's pheromones, and have found a cheaper and more effective solution. "Now we've found the genes they use to communicate; we can begin fabricating environmentally safe baits that trick them into gathering in one place," said report author Professor Bernard Degnan. "We had starfish at the base of a giant Y-shaped tank and if you let plain seawater run in, it basically just sits there," said Degnan. "However, if you have one arm with natural seawater and another that had travelled across aggregating starfish in a different tank, it would immediately sense the chemical and move towards the arm from where the signal came. We did this repeatedly and the data is significant statistically." The researchers are hoping that a similar approach can also be applied to other marine pests.



The Federal Government has revealed a $60 million plan to protect the Reef. Michaelia Cash, the Minister for Jobs and Innovation, said that $10 million will be spent on controlling the population of the crown-of-thorns starfish. Most of the funding will be spent over the next 18 months on preventing polluted water from entering the reef. $6 million will go towards the AIMS or the Australian Institute of Marine Science, and the CSIRIO to "develop new ways for the reef to adapt and recover". "This is all about investing in the future of the reef itself… This is about looking at how technology can assist us in terms of new ways to help the reef adapt and recover."

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aid

help


n,v.援助

an-oth-er

in addition to


pn.另一个

ash

the powdery residue left after the burning of a substance or emitted by a volcano


n.灰

at-tempts

an act of trying to achieve something, typically one that is unsuccessful or not certain to succeed


n.尝试

au-thor

a writer of a book or report


n.作者

ba-sic

simple, beginner level


adj.基本

con-trol

operate a machine or equipment / the power to change or direct something


v,n.控制

crea-ture

an animal, as distinct from a human being


n.生物

cur-rent

right now / a flow of water in the ocean


adj,n.当前/潮流

dif-fer-rent

not the same


adj.不同

di-ges-tive

related to the process of digesting and absorbing food


adj.消化

dis-solve

a solid that becomes part of a liquid


v.溶解

ef-fec-tive

able to produce a result


adj.有效

en-vi-ron-ment

place where something lives


n.环境

en-vi-ron-men-tal

to do with the natural world


adj.环境

fab-ric

cloth made by weaving or knitting fibres


n.布

fed-e-ral

of, relating to, central government


adj.联邦

fu-ture

time still to come    


n.未来

go-vern-ment

the ruling body of a nation, state or community


n.政府

health-y

being well, without sickness


adj.健康

im-me-di-ate-ly

right now


adv.立即

in-crease

growing or becoming greater


n.增加

in-di-vi-dual

single, one


adj.个人/个体

in-jec-ted

forced a medicine etc into a body through a needle


v.注射

in-sti-tute

an organization having a scientific, educational, or social purpose


n.研究所

ma-rine

to do with the sea


adj.海洋

men-tal

to do with the mind


adj.心理

mi-ni-ster

a head of a government department


n.部长

na-tu-ral

from nature, not manmade


adj.自然/天然

pop-u-la-tion

the people who live in a particular place


n.人口

pre-ven-ting

stop something from happening


v.防止

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teacher at a university


n.教授

prone

likely to suffer from, do, or experience something, usually regrettable or unwelcome


adj.倾向于

pro-tect

keep safe from harm


v.保护

re-cent

not long ago


adj.最近    

re-cent-ly

not long ago


adv.最近

re-search

looking for knowledge


v.调研

re-search-er

person who searches for knowledge


n.研究员

re-veal

to make known


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sig-nal

send information


v.信号/示意

sig-nif-i-cant

important, standing out from the rest


adj.重大/有意义

solve

find an answer

 


v.解决

spe-cies

kinds or sorts of animal


n.种类

spine

the bones of the back


n.脊柱

tech-no-lo-gy

machinery developed from scientific knowledge


n.技术