Up Close with a Coral Eater
Found throughout the Indo-Pacific, the crown of thorns starfish, Acanthaster planci, is one of the largest sea stars in the world (up to 45 cm across). Unlike the typical starfish with five arms, the crown of thorns starfish is disc-shaped with multiple arms (up to 21) covered in poisonous spines. These unique features gave rise to this starfish’s commonly referred to name of the crown of thorns.
Acanthaster planci is a corallivore, which means that it feeds on live coral tissue. After climbing on a coral colony, the crown of thorns starfish extrudes its stomach out through its mouth and spreads it over the surface of the corals. The stomach secretes digestive enzymes that liquefy the coral tissue which is then absorbed.
For the rest of the story visit: Crown of Thorns Starfish Wreak Havoc in American Samoa — The NPS Responds