Volunteer divers have killed almost 47,000 crown-of-thorns starfish on the southern Great Barrier Reef in just seven days, breaking a record in the process.
Thousands of the starfish were discovered only months ago eating their way through parts of Swains Reef, which lies 250 kilometres off the central Queensland coast.
Gladstone charter operator Bruce Stobo led the group of 25 volunteer divers on the nine-day mission.
“They tell me, unofficially, that it’s the most amount of starfish that [have] been killed in a single trip in that time,” said Mr Stobo, who donated his catamaran to the mission.
Similar missions have culled up to 30,000 crown-of-thorns starfish.
Queensland Parks and Wildlife detected the infestation during a survey in November last year, but this did not prepare the divers for what they saw.
“Everyone was absolutely surprised,” Mr Stobo said.
“We had professional divers on board who’ve been working up north, and one in particular who’s been doing it for eight months full-time, and he said it was the most that he’s seen in one area.”
Photo: Matt Kieffer/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)