Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Earth's Most Diverse Marine Life Found Off Indonesia's Papua Province

25.09.2006
New Species of Sharks, Shrimp, Coral Need Protection

Two recent expeditions led by Conservation International (CI) to the heart of Asia's "Coral Triangle" discovered dozens of new species of marine life including epaulette sharks, "flasher" wrasse and reef-building coral, confirming the region as the Earth's richest seascape.

The unmatched marine biodiversity of the Bird's Head Seascape, named for the shape of the distinctive peninsula on the northwestern end of Indonesia's Papua province, includes more than 1,200 species of fish and almost 600 species of reef-building (scleractinian) coral, or 75 percent of the world's known total.

Researchers described an underwater world of visual wonders, such as the small epaulette shark that "walks" on its fins and colorful schools of reef fish populating abundant and healthy corals of all shapes and sizes.

Threats from over-fishing with dynamite and cyanide, as well as deforestation and mining that degrade coastal waters, require immediate steps to protect the unique marine life that sustains local communities. The seascape's central location in the Coral Triangle of the Pacific, which exports and maintains biodiversity in the entire Indo-Pacific marine realm, makes it one of the planet's most urgent marine conservation priorities.

"These Papuan reefs are literally 'species factories' that require special attention to protect them from unsustainable fisheries and other threats so they can continue to benefit their local owners and the global community," said Mark Erdmann, senior adviser of CI's Indonesian Marine Program, who led the surveys. "Six of our survey sites, which are areas the size of two football fields, had over 250 species of reef-building coral each - that's more than four times the number of coral species of the entire Caribbean Sea."

Though human population density in the region is low, the coastal people of the Bird's Head peninsula are heavily dependent on the sea for their livelihoods - which now are under threat from a plan to transfer fishing pressures from Indonesia's over-fished western seas to the east toward Papua province.

"The coastal villages we surveyed were mostly engaged in subsistence fishing, farming and gathering, and they require healthy marine ecosystems to survive," said Paulus Boli, a State University of Papua researcher led the socioeconomic component of the expeditions. "We are very concerned about the potential impact of planned commercial fisheries expansion in the region, and we urge a precautionary approach that emphasizes sustainability over intensive exploitation."

The two Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) surveys earlier this year, along with a third expedition in 2001, studied waters surrounding Papua province from Teluk Cenderawasih in the north to the Raja Ampat archipelago off the western coast and southeast to the FakFak-Kaimana coastline. A few hundred kilometers inland are Papua's Foja Mountains, where a team led by CI and the Indonesian Institute of Science (LIPI) last year discovered a virtual "Lost World" of new species of birds, butterflies, frogs and other wildlife.

Off the coast, researchers found more than 50 species of fish, coral and mantis shrimp previously unknown to science in the Bird's Head Seascape that covers 18 million hectares, including 2,500 islands and submerged reefs. The seascape also includes the largest Pacific leatherback turtle nesting area in the world, and migratory populations of sperm and Bryde's whales, orcas and several dolphin species.

"We're thankful to the Ministry of Forestry and CI for the significant data from these surveys, and we are excited to be planning further surveys in 2007 to fill in remaining data gaps that will help us plan the most effective management possible for this exceedingly crucial area," said Dr. Suharsono, head of LIPI's Oceanography Center.

Only 11 percent of the seascape is currently protected, most of it in the Teluk Cenderawasih National Park that is supported by the World Wide Fund for Nature-Indonesia (WWF-Indonesia). Results of the CI-led surveys highlight the need for a well-managed network of multiple-use Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to conserve the seascape's biodiversity and ensure the long-term sustainability of commercial and subsistence fishing.

Partners in the two 2006 surveys funded by the Walton Family Foundation included the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry's Department of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation and its local offices in Papua; Teluk Cenderawasih National Park Authority, the State University of Papua, and WWF-Indonesia.

Tom Cohen | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.conservation.org

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

nachricht International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Northern oceans pumped CO2 into the atmosphere

27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Big data approach to predict protein structure

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>