The crown-of-thorns starfish, scientifically known as Acanthaster planci, are considered one of the serious problems besetting a coral reef ecosystem. The reason is that the crown-of-thorns starfish feed on corals, removing the polyps and leaving the corals bleached and dead. The feeding frenzy is pronounced during outbreaks of the species.
Crown of thorns is now a common specie sighted during diving – a reality besetting the marine world, an indicator of the reef system imbalance. Some reason of outbreaks is due to the loss of its natural predators which include triton shells, prawns and trigger fish – which are hunted by humans for food. High levels of nutrients in the coastal areas can attribute also outbreaks, which accumulates due to human activites offshore or water run-off.
The specie is generally common during summer, as they thrive in warm waters. Above photo was taken during a dive in Albay Gulf, there was a big colony of them scattered in Pasig Out area. Such a dreaded sight!