June 28, 2007

Reef Check Monitoring and Crown of Thorns Starfish (COTs) Control in Palu Bay, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia


By: Yayasan Palu Hijau (YPH) and STPL-Palu (LP3M & MAPALA)
Supported by Yayasan Reef Check Indonesia (YRCI)

I. Background
Since 2001, Reef Check members in Central Sulawesi have observed the coral reefs in Palu
Bay, including at the location called Kadongo by local people. On the first visit in 2001, the
Kadongo fringing coral reef was in good condition, and the underwater scenery was attractive,
enlivened by many colourful reef fish including commercially valuable species such as
Sweetlips and Snappers. The location is also blessed with seagrass beds, and a single dugong
has been seen at times, he or she even rubbed up against one of the team on one occasion,
causing quite a fright at first! However in 2002, a COTs (Acanthaster plancii) outbreak
caused extensive damage.

In 2003, the recruitment and growth of new corals was visible, however some of the
branching corals which had been killed in the shallower parts of the reef (1.5-4m) had broken
up and become rubble, most of which was deposited at depths of 6-12m.
Observations made at Kadongo in late 2006, during a SCUBA diving and coral reef survey
training programme supported by the Program Mitra Bahari (Sea Partnership Programme),
showed that a severe COTs outbreak was once again in progress at Kadongo. This prompted
the team from local NGO Yayasan Palu Hijau (YPH) and the Fisheries and Marine Institute
for Higher Education (STPL-Palu) to recommend a COTs control operation as part of the
training report, and to actively seek support (equipment and funds) to undertake this activity
as soon as possible.

In April 2007, a proposal for Earth Day activities including COTs control combined with
Reef Check data collection and the collection of signatures for the International Declaration of
Reef Rights was accepted for small grant funding by Yayasan Reef Check Indonesia (YRCI),
and at the end of the month the necessary SCUBA equipment also became available.

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