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 Bioinvasion on the rise
15.02.2017 | Universität Konstanz

nachricht Litter Levels in the Depths of the Arctic are On the Rise
10.02.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

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: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>