Herald Sun - - NEWS -

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.

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