A Ministry of Marine Resources team member disposing of Taramea on Manuae. Photo by Akau Film/Johnny Beasley/21071808
A team of Ministry of Marine Resources (MMR) employees, volunteer freedivers and a representative from the Proprietors of Manuae Incorporated (PMI) has just returned from a crown-of-thorns starfish (taramea) removal expedition to the uninhabited island of Manuae.
from surveys in March indicated outbreak densities of taramea along specific stretches of forereef.
this return trip, the team focused their removal efforts in these high density
areas, clearing every taramea they
could find. In total, the team removed 1259 in three days of diving.
a statement, Marine scientist Kirby Morejohn said: “This work wouldn’t have
been possible without such a well-oiled team. We had some of the best
freedivers in the country – honestly, you’d be hard pressed to find a better
group of freedivers anywhere in the world.”
the divers were supported by Richard Story, our master boat captain, and Tara
Tshan-Toi who volunteered to be our camp chef. The work these two provided was
greatly appreciated and allowed the dive team to work all day long.”
Taramea are a native
species on Cook Islands’ reefs, but every now and then occur in alarming
numbers. These starfish eat corals, removing living tissue and leaving
bone-white coral skeletons behind.
outbreaks of taramea can cause damage
to the reef that is equivalent to that of a cyclone. It is important that taramea predators such as humphead
wrasse (maratea), triton trumpet
snails (pu) and the star pufferfish
(‘ue) are left on the reefs to help
control taramea populations.