Rangers and Crown-of-Thorns Starfish

20 April 2009 

The rangers, Angelique and the WWF expedition team

The rangers, Angelique and the WWF expedition team

Order of the day was an early morning group picture of the rangers with manager Angelique and WWF expedition visitors Alya, Yogi & I. After breakfast, we photographed WWF ranger Choy and TMO ranger Manny diving a coral reef near the station. They monitored through transects the health of the reef.  In this dive, a manta passed by and glided through a school of jacks!

Crown of thorn starfish infestation in the lagoon!

Crown of thorn starfish infestation in the lagoon!

After lunch we went back to gathering COTS. It was a war zone out there. These hungry creatures decimated huge portions of the reef in the lagoon.

The inner lagoon, which is off limits to tourists, was absolutely stunning in the shallow white sands. Healthy staghorn corals were in Jurassic proportions. Every one of us had so much anger for these murderous COTS that Angelique had a battle cry “Let’s get rid of their race!”

After three hours of relentless stabbing and gathering, 1,422 COTS were taken out of the waters. We visited a private yacht later in the afternoon where we met old friends and made new ones.

Since we infected everyone with our COTS fervor, by the end of the night, Angelique had a pledge from the boat owner Ed Mijares of 6000 Philippine pesos for 3,000 COTS the rangers are able to gather the next day! The whole group from the boat also planned to join in.

About the Author:

Stella was born in Manila, Philippines in 1965. She studied anthropology but ended up in advertising, producing radio and TV commercials for 7 years. After quitting advertising, she ventured into the freelance world in Manila producing video documentaries for a publishing house, government agencies, non govenmental organisations, and the academe. She moved on to producing books and had a stint at working with foreign production companies visiting Manila. Stella, now based in Cairns, produces photo stories with her husband Jürgen Freund.