Great Barrier Reef protection, is the primary priority now for Australia, and it has already spent millions of dollars on it, and further planning to another 60 million dollar funding. However, the official advice of the tourism-linked groups always recommends against the project, due to the failures of the past ones.
The million dollar contract includes taking measures to slaughter out-of-control, coral-eating crown of thorns starfish, but the earlier attempts have failed consistently, only to make the problem worse.
As per the statistics, Australia has been reportedly killing more than 600,000 starfish since 2012, preventing it from eating away the Great Barrier Reef, already demoralising several animal activists and marine biologists. The plan of action for the project is equally demeaning, which includes a diver team of 25 volunteers, each mercilessly hunting down the spiky crown-of-thorns starfish and inject bile salts into them. They have been reportedly injecting around 10ml of bile salts into each of the starfishes to punch holes in their cell walls resulting in their immediate death within a day.
The crown-of-thorns starfish trait more than a dozen arms and can be as large as a dinner plate. According to Mike Hall, a researcher at the Australian Institute of Marine Science, these starfishes are known to destroy the coral reefs using their digestive enzymes and feeding on their juices.
“In recent months, occupational crown-of-thorns starfish divers have culled as many as 30,000 crown-of-thorns starfish in a single voyage,” said Steve Moon, Project manager for the Crown-of-Thorns Starfish Control Program. He added that they aim to kill at least 1,000 crown-of-thorns starfish per day by each of divers. The project has a principal drawback that apart from being expensive, it is also laborious and time-consuming.
Not only the starfishes, Great Barrier Reef has another serious issue of ‘bleaching’ of the corals resulting from the increased warmth of ocean waters. Pictures of localised coral bleaching have started cropping up, which began weeks ahead of its highest forecast risk, suggesting widespread possible bleaching by March. The Reef known we all know for its beautiful colours will soon be decolourised, leaving it bland and fade for the viewers.
The protection program includes an unusual project that involves giant fans to be installed on a small part of the reef, for cooling water and hence prevent bleaching. The budget of the project is separately designed with initial funding of 2.2 million dollars. The project also involves mixing of the colder waters from depths of the ocean to the warmer shallow waters, by means of giant water pumps, to reduce heat stress and avoid coral bleaching.
A representative of the Great Barrier Reef, Marine Park Authority, said, “We welcome new information to help inform managing the Great Barrier Reef.” She further added some improvements to the program as the reports that were created include the improved methods for targeting locations, and better culling efficiency and monitoring of the impact on coral cover.