Epicenter of ocean diversity found - Tourism Indonesia




Monday, August 13, 2007

Epicenter of ocean diversity found

Scientists said on Monday they found two types of shark, exotic "flasher" fish and corals among 52 new species in seas off Indonesia, confirming the western Pacific as the richest marine habitat on earth.

They urged more protection for seas around the Bird's Head peninsula at the western end of New Guinea island from threats including mining and dynamite fishing that can smash coral reefs.

"We feel very confident that this is the epicenter of marine biodiversity" in the world, said Mark Erdmann, a U.S. scientist at Conservation International who led two surveys this year. (See the brilliant colors of the new fish)

Erdmann said the area surveyed was the center of a "Coral Triangle" -- between Indonesia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Around the Bird's Head peninsula there were 1,223 species of fish and 600 types of corals.

The Great Barrier Reef, covering an area 10 times bigger, has slightly more types of fish -- 1,464 species -- but just 405 species of coral. And the bigger Caribbean Sea has fewer than 1,000 species of fish and just 58 types of coral.

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