• Native to – Wide Indo-Pacific distribution
  • Invaded – The Great Barrier Reef
  • Means of Invasion – Ballast water tanks of ships
  • Impact – Destroying coral reef sea beds and dominating over native species

The crown of thorns starfish, one of the largest star fish in the world, is now identified as an incredibly threatening invasive species.

Due to the transportation of their larvae in the ballast water tanks of ships, this invader has managed to spread far and wide into foreign waters.  The starfish originally only confined itself to coastal areas, however have now been given the chance to latch onto and populate rich coral reef sea beds. Specifically, the star fish has now become an invasive species of the Great Barrier Reef, becoming a large threat as they continue to eat their way along the reef, creating devastating effects in their paths.

This is particularly concerning as the star fish have no natural predators in these waters, therefore they have the ability to keep growing at an immense rate, ultimately destroying the coral reef seabed.

Another worry is the lack of defense any prey have against the crown of thorns starfish, especially as the invasive species has acquired its name due to its large venomous spines covering their complete upper surface area, bearing resemblance to the biblical crown of thorns.

This invader is a harsh reminder of the complexity of the ecosystem and the hugely damaging effects just one invasive species can cause by entering into foreign waters.