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
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
Acanthaster planci, commonly known as the crown-of-thorns starfish, is a large, multiple-armed starfish (or seastar) that usually preys upon hard, or stony, coral polyps (Scleractinia). The crown-of-thorns receives its name from venomous thorn-like spines that cover its upper surface or the crown of thorns of Jesus. It is one of the largest sea stars in the world, the largest being probably the sunflower seastar (Pycnopodia helianthoides).
A. planci has a very wide Indo-Pacific distribution. It occurs at tropical and subtropical latitudes from the Red Sea and the east African coast across the Pacific Ocean, across the Indian Ocean to the west coast of Central America. It occurs where coral reefs or hard coral communities occur in this region.
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