Above: Ellison Reef off Mission Beach, Queensland before starfish killed entire reef.

Lower picture: A very old, large starfish on a bommie outside Fitzroy Lagoon (Capricorn and Bunker Group)

click above picture to enlarge it

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Beaver Cay, on or about 1983
Captain Perry Harvey had a battle with marine park authorities over obtaining their permission (believe it or not) to remove coral destroying starfish from a vast patch of coral reef at Beaver Cay.

The reef was visited daily by his charter boat Friendship.

To sit by and watch the valuable coral reef (for tourism) being killed was ‘not on”.

Thousands of starfish were removed, before permission was finally granted.

The reef was saved, but only just.

Captain Perry Harvey was regularly interviewed in marine documentaries. The late Robert Raymond did extensive documentary film reporting and wrote a book on the subject.

Eventually budgets for starfish eradication by divers were granted.

Is the problem under control today?   Global warming is the new buzz word.


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Lowest of low tides near at Ellison Reef (#17-044 Mission Beach area) occur in winter. This day was like a jackpot. Not only the low low of tide at midday,(exposing greater than normal the usually submerged reef for an hour or so) but no breeze AND a clear sunny sky. Unusual for the no breeze, common for the other factors.

Three years ago the coral eating **crown of thorns** starfish (CoT) went through the area. Local marine identity **Perry Harvey** has told me \”Ellison Reef is now dead, eaten by the starfish”.\ Perry was my guide on this perfect day. He knows the region well having captained his own charter boats here for decades.

At nearby Otter Reef (#18-018) we encountered CoT during the famous Belgian Expedition to the Great Barrrier Reef, (a 35mm scientific film project) and made the first pictures exposing the hazard (soon after the problem was noticed at Green Island underwater observatory, off Cairns). Coral bleaching is something different and more widespread. Neither are much good for the future of hard corals.
**Photo: John Harding**