Let’s Cheer Ourselves Up – Again!


There’s always some kind of problem that is going to have dire consequences somewhere in the world. All sorts of things seem to happen around the globe which, taken over seriously, could make anyone despondent.

Of course potential and known problems have to be taken seriously but a lot of this information needs to be filtered if we are to maintain a reasonable level of sanity.

The wild coral reefs are having a hard time of it and deteriorating. Much of this is caused by us, humankind. Some examples are land run-off which includes soil because of de-forestation, chemical pollution because of industry and farm run-off such as nitrates. In addition, in some areas the reefs are still blown up to obtain building materials. More directly connected to the marine hobby, in one or two areas, despite great efforts to change things, cyanide is still used as a catching agent for fish. The cyanide does assist with catching fish and at the same time reduces considerably their likely health and lifespan in a home aquarium. Further, it affects other life that has a home on the reef, killing some of it.

Now I understand there are problems with the Crown of Thorns starfish, Acanthaster placi, on the Great Barrier Reef off Australia. The starfish are quite big, 12 inches and over in diameter. This starfish strips hard corals leaving a white dead skeleton, and the problem was highlighted a good while back when the starfish started to reach very excessive numbers. Attempts then were made to control the starfish by cutting them up, a major mistake as it is a starfish and can regenerate. Perhaps it would have worked if the things had been macerated (anyone for starfish soup?). Eventually I believe individual starfish were taken out of the sea completely and disposed of, which seems a much more practical idea.

Now the starfish are said to be on the increase again and the fear is that the devastation to the reefs will be enormous, so much so that the reefs will lose some of their ability (small as that appears to be) to resist climate change, that is warming of the seas, and the acidification of the seas, that is a reduction in pH. I’m not sure what the temperature increase is up to now in the seas but understand the pH to have fallen by 0.1.

Efforts I’m sure will be made once again to remove the starfish as far as possible. However, once again there is a particular problem caused by us. Well, there would be!

As mentioned earlier, farm run-off is said to be causing excessive algae which means the corals are not able to, or at least are not as efficient at, eating the starfish’s eggs. So it’s a catch 22 situation, the starfish are increasing and eating more corals as the corals are not eating as many of the starfish eggs.

I wonder what life form eats the starfish. I know the corals are supposed to eat many of the eggs, but I mean what naturally predates on the grown starfish? On the reef something eats something which eats something else. What is it? Perhaps assistance could be given to increase this predation.

What about the enormous increase in the jellyfish population?

Or perhaps I shouldn’t ask. Maybe the answer will be another bucket of bad news!

Nature is a great healer given the chance. Maybe the doom will not be as potentially bad as predicted. I like optimism.

Of course there’s another way (which I don’t encourage). As in the saying, ‘Ignorance is bliss’.

(Note: the image is not of a Crown of Thorns)