GIANT SNAIL ‘REEF SAVIOUR’
A GIANT starfish-eating sea snail could be unleashed as a weapon to save the Great Barrier Reef.
The crown-of-thorns starfish is one of the leading causes of coral loss on the reef, and up to 150,000 of the pests can spread over just 1sq km during an outbreak.
Now the federal government is funding worldfirst research into breeding rare, giant triton sea snails, which eat the starfish.
The snails, which can grow up to half a metre, were almost hunted to extinction for their shells, and while they’ve been a protected species in Queensland since the 1960s, they remain rare.
The government is spending $568,000 on research and a trial over the next two years.
More than 100,000 snail larvae have already hatched during early stages of the project.