Dataset: Crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) surveys on reefs within the Dampier Archipelago, Western Australia


Surveys of crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) were undertaken in the western half of the Dampier Archipelago, at 3 fringing reefs (Enderby Island, Goodwin Island and Kendrew Island) and 1 barrier reef (Sailfish Reef) in 1987.

The manta tow technique was used to record the relative abundance of crown-of-thorns starfish, numbers of white feeding scars on corals and estimates of live and dead hard coral cover. This technique was also used to identify suitable collection sites where Acanthaster planci was abundant.

Samples of Acanthaster planci were collected using scuba at 2 sites on each of Kendrew and Enderby Reefs, and at 1 site on Goodwyn and Sailfish Reefs. Crown-of-thorns starfish were collected from each of these sites, except for Goodwyn Reef, where no individuals were observed.

The diameter of each starfish was recorded and samples of pyloric caeca were taken. The labelled samples were stored in liquid nitrogen and returned to AIMS for genetic analysis. Photographs were taken of each starfish collected at Enderby Island (site 1), and then a portion of aboral disc and 2 arms removed from each. These samples were labelled, stored in 5% sea-water formalin and returned to AIMS for subsequent morphometric analysis. Observations were also made on gonad development and any damage sustained by the starfish.

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