, Volume 27, Issue 3, p 581
Date: 29 Feb 2008

A newly discovered predator of the crown-of-thorns starfish

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Recently, we observed a solitary polyp attacking and completely ingesting a crown-of-thorns starfish (Fig. 1). This large (21-cm diameter) ‘coral-like’ animal, Pseudocorynactis sp., belongs to the order of Corallimorpharia (Anthozoa; Hexacorallia (Daly et al. 2003)). Although Pseudocorynactis sp. is frequently encountered in reefs of both Indonesia (den Hartog 1997) and Malaysia (Gosliner et al. 1996), no specimen has been identified in the Indo-Pacific region. Fig. 1

A polyp of Pseudocorynactis sp. ingesting a crown-of-thorns starfish

We observed natural interactions between polyps of Pseudocorynactis sp. and various echinoderms, including starfishes with diameters of up to 25 cm, in the Davao Gulf, the Philippines. When sensing potential prey, the polyp quickly extended itself to bring its tentacles with their extremely sticky nematocysts towards its victim. From the unusually large size of the nematocysts, it has already been suggested that members of this genus are highly efficient p