Coral-Eating Sea Stars Acanthaster planci in Hawaii

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Science  11 Jun 1971:
Vol. 172, Issue 3988, pp. 1155-1157
DOI: 10.1126/science.172.3988.1155


An aggregation of 2 x 104 Acanthaster planci was observed from September 1969 to November 1970. The sea stars within the aggregation were very uniform in size, and their reproduction was seasonal. Their average diameter and weight also varied seasonally in a manner that suggests a correlation between average size and breeding condition. The aggregation remained compactly situated in a band a few to tens of meters wide and about 2 kilometers long, parallel to the shore. The band did not move appreciably during the observation period. The sea stars were feeding selectively on a coral which was a minor component of the total coral cover. The coral in the area was predominantly alive, and the proportion of dead coral did not increase appreciably during our period of observation.