Pigeon Island Reef Cleanup

Removing Crown of Thorn Starfish to control an outbreak
By Sri Lanka Sub Aqua Club, Nilaveli Beach Hotel, Ypsylon Dive Center & Department of Wild Life Sri Lanka

Nilaveli, Trincomalee
By Dharshana Jayawardena on the 06/09/2013


Pigeon Island National Park Nilaveli Trincomalee
Pigeon Island National Park, Nilaveli, Trincomalee

Briefing Nilaveli Pigeon Island
Clean up debriefing at Nilaveli Beach Hotel with Ypsylon Dive Center

06/09/2013 - A dozen members from the The Sri Lanka Sub Aqua Club, only active SCUBA diving club in Sri Lanka, conducted a reef cleanup operation which was sponsored by the Nilaveli Beach Hotel and the Ypsylon Dive Center.

Two dives were conducted, each over one hour. The divers swept the environs of the island clock wise on an East to North West arc and speared and collected 181 Crown Of Thorns (the target had been 60).

Crown of Thorns are a scourge to a Coral Reef. This starfish hugs the coral with its belly and sucks in the coral into its stomach leaving a trail of destruction across the reef. An outbreak can be devastating to a healthy coral reef. Based on several reports by the Ypsylon Dive Center and at the request of the Nilaveli Beach Hotel, the Sub Aqua Club Decided to dispatch a team of Scuba Divers to clean up as many as possible starfish.

The Crown of Thorn starfish can also be dangerous to divers. Any contact or injury from the spikes can lead to very unpleasant consequences. As such great care was taken when removing the starfish from the environment which resulted in zero casualties to the club.

Good news was that the surrounding coral reef looked quite healthy. Also the presence of more sharks than before was a good indicator of the health of the reef. Thus, it is hoped by all involved that the removal of these starfish would contribute to increased health of the reef.


Crown Of Thorn Clean up
Removing Crown of Thorns from the reef
Crown of Thorns clean up
Club Diver Ajith Fernando with a bucket full of Crown of Thorns
Crown of Thorns clean up
Club Diver Tamara Jayaratnam as seen from the "Spear Cam!"
Crown of Thorns grave
14 Divers, 2 1 hour dives result in 181 Crown of Thorns removed!
Black Tip Reef Sharks Pigeon Island
We noticed more sharks at Pigeon Island than ever before. A good sign!
Cabbage Coral Reef Pigeon Island
Healthy Cabbage Coral Reefs around the Pigeon Island
Staghorn Coral Piegon Island Nilaveli Trincomalee
Healthy Staghorn Coral Field around the island

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Photo Credits: (c) www.DiveSriLanka.com by Dharshana Jayawardena