A GIANT starfish-eating sea snail could be unleashed as a weapon to save the Great Barrier Reef.
The crown-of-thorns starfish is one of the leading causes of coral loss on the Reef, and up to 150,000 of the pests can spread over just one square kilometre during an outbreak.
Now the Federal Government is funding world-first research into breeding rare giant triton sea snails, which eat the starfish.
The sea snails, which can grow to half a metre, were almost hunted to extinction for their shells, and while they've been a protected species in Queensland since the 1960s, they still remain rare.
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