GEORGETTE DOUWMA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY GEORGETTE DOUWMA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) crawling over a sandy area between reefs. This starfish grows up to 40 centimetres in diameter and has 12-19 arms. The spines can cause pain, swelling, nausea and vomiting if touched by humans. It is a coral reef predator (corallivore) that preys on the coral polyps by extending its stomach over them and releasing digestive enzymes. This liquefies the coral's tissue, which the starfish then absorbs. Photographed off Komodo, Indonesia.
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