The Australian government, major universities, and science centers are working hard to get to the root of the problem and come up with long-term solutions, not just to rid the reef of COTS outbreaks, but improve water quality overall and protect the reef from other threats––because the starfish aren't the only things threatening the reef.
Warming sea-surface temperatures from global warming and ocean acidification are major factors as well. On a more local scale, land-based runoff, coastal development, and illegal fishing are also extremely harmful to the reef and the surrounding ecosystem. Humans play a large role in the devastation of the reef; fighting the crown-of-thorns starfish is only one way to combat the problem. The other is to take more responsibility in the way we treat our environment.
To find out more about why crown-of-thorns starfish pose such a problem to the reef, check out the video below:
My Main Take-Away: I have never seen the Great Barrier Reef, and I'm afraid I may never be able to see it in all its glory. While the COTS problem is being effectively dealt with, there are still other major threats to the reef––and the environment in general––that are much more large scale and difficult to deal with; mostly because the solution doesn't involve us keeping nature in check, like with the COTSbot, but us keeping ourselves in check. Still, the article enlightened about some major, impressive scientific advancements that are taking place, and made me optimistic for a future where technological advancements can actually help and heal the environment. The COTSbot is an example not just about how ingenious humans can be when it comes to technology––especially in terms of artificial intelligence (the COTSbot has become so advanced that it no longer responds to the fake starfish used in trials, only real ones)––but also of how scientific innovation can truly make a positive difference.