More or less 400 Crowns of Thorns (COTs) were removed from the marine area of Malabagon Reef in Escalante City, Negros Occidental during a recent coastal clean-up.
The COTs are large sea stars named after the spines that cover their bodies and arms. They are known to permanently damage coral reefs, and scientists consider them a species of concern, not because their numbers are too low but because locally high numbers can threaten other species.
During the initial removal on March 15, CENRO-Cadiz personnel along with Local Government Unit (LGU) of Escalante City collected approximately 300 COTs.
On March 22, a simultaneous coastal clean-up along the seawall of Barangay Old Poblacion and COTs removal at the Malabagon Reef both located in Escalante City were conducted. A total of 1,763 non-biodegradable wastes were collected and a total of 98 COTs were removed.
The gathered COTs were subsequently buried to an area identified by Escalante City.
These activities were conducted by CENRO-Cadiz personnel composed of TSPS personnel, Office of the CENR Officer (OCENRO), Sagay Marine Reserve (SMR), and assisted by Northern Negros State Collage of Science and Technology (NONESCOST) students taking up Bachelor’s of Science and Fisheries and Biology as part of their office on-the-job training (OJT), in collaboration with LGU Escalante City and Philippine Coast Guard.
These coral predators occur naturally on the reefs throughout the Indo-Pacific region and are also visible to the waters of the other provinces including the Aklan and Antique. (DENR-6)