Crown-of-thorns starfish

Crown-of-thorns starfish

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Credit: PETER SCOONES/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci, dark red and pink). Starfish are marine invertebrates. This is a poisonous starfish that lives on coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific region. It has 12 to 19 arms and long spines on its upper surface. The epithelial cells covering the spines contain glands that release poison into the skin of an attacker. Its mouth is on its lower side, feeding on the polyps that build a coral reef. It can reach 45 centimetres across. The increase in numbers of this starfish, resulting from man's decimation of its chief predator, poses a serious threat to coral reefs. Photographed at Richelieu Rock, near Thailand, in the Andaman Sea.

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Keywords: acanthaster planci, andaman sea, animal, coral reef, coral-eater, coral-feeder, crown of thorns, crown-of-thorns starfish, destroying, destructive, echinoderm, echinodermata, forager, foraging, grazer, grazing, indian, invertebrates, lone, marine, nature, ocean, poison, poisonous, richelieu rock, sea, single, spine, spines, spiny, thai, thailand, toxic, toxin, underwater, wildlife, zoology

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