COOK ISLAND DIVERS HELP CONTAIN CROWN OF THORNS STARFISH

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AVARUA, Rarotonga, Cook Islands (January 24, 2002 – Radio Australia)---Scuba divers in the Cook Islands are helping win the battle against the crown of thorns starfish, which destroys coral.

Private operators are working with Ministry of Marine Resources teams, spotting infested areas and then injecting many thousands of the poisonous starfish with special chemicals, to keep their numbers down.

A ministry spokesman said the goal is to control the creatures and not eradicate them, because the total removal of one pest usually means it is replaced by something else.

The Cook Islands experienced high numbers of crown of thorns starfish in 1999 and again in 2000. But frequent inspection of known habitats has since kept the problem under control.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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