The Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA) research staffs were approached by the owner of the Whitetip dive centre on Praslin, as his dive crew had noticed an increase in the number of Crown-Of-Thorn’s (COT’s) starfish on some popular dive sites. He had heard of an ongoing eradication program on Mahe and was seeking SNPAs’ assistance to start up an eradication program for Praslin.

The Crown-Of-Thorns (Acanthaster planci), is a large starfish with lots of arms that usually preys on hard corals. COTs receive its name from its venomous thorn-like spines that cover its upper body. It threatens coral communities, especially Acropora species, which serve as their primary food source.

Crown of Thorn starfish measuring and data recording                                                         

The eradication dives took place on two well known dive sites; Booby Island and Ave Maria, in August 2014, famous for spotting large marine animals, such whale sharks and dolphins.

The dive centre staffs learnt the method, used on Mahe, of removing this species, and the necessary precautions they needed to take to prevent injuries. Once the COT’s had been removed, they were measured and examined for any distinguishing features and damage. The data collected will be given to the Marine Conservation Society of Seychelles (MCSS), the organisation heading the eradication programme. The first part of the programme is the removal of as many COTs, on our reefs, as possible. The dive crew was really enthusiastic to take part in this eradication program. They are now better equipped to lend a helping hand in future COTS eradication.

Data collection by SNPA and white tip dive centre staffs