Crown-of-thorns starfish at a reef in the Pacific

Crown-of-thorns starfish

Crown-of-thorns starfish are one of the most damaging creatures of tropical coral reefs, particularly Australia's Great Barrier Reef. They are voracious predators that release the contents of their stomach on to the coral. Digestive juices then liquify the coral ready for consumption. A single individual can wipe out large areas in this way. They are almost completely covered in protective venomous spines capable of causing great pain in humans. Yet the crown-of-thorns starfish does have predators of its own, including molluscs, fish and worms.

Scientific name: Acanthaster planci

Rank: Species


The Crown-of-thorns starfish can be found in a number of locations including: Australia, Great Barrier Reef, Indian subcontinent. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.


The following habitats are found across the Crown-of-thorns starfish distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.


Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web


  1. Life
  2. Animals
  3. Echinoderms
  4. Starfish
  5. Valvatida
  6. Acanthasteridae
  7. Acanthaster
  8. Crown-of-thorns starfish

BBC News about Crown-of-thorns starfish