Scientists say the key to saving the Great Barrier Reef from coral-eating starfish can be found on supermarket shells.
It might mostly be used for drizzling on fish and chips, but a new study shows vinegar is a deadly weapon against the Crown-Of-Thorns starfish plaguing the reef.
Trials from James Cook University show that when Crown-Of-Thorns starfish are injected with vinegar they die within two days. The tests had a 100 percent success rate.
A starfish is made mainly of water so the acidity of the vinegar quickly kills the venomous reef pests.
Divers are currently using ox bile to kill starfish but, as the paper’s lead author Lisa Boström-Einarsson notes, “It’s expensive, requires permits and has to be mixed to the right concentration.”
“We used 20ml of vinegar, which is half the price and can be bought off the shelf at any local supermarket.”
Vinegar is just one of the methods scientists are exploring for dealing with the starfish. Earlier this year, scientists announced the development of a starfish killing robot, which will be up and running by December 2015.