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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Preserving the Coral Triangle

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Wednesday, October 21, 2015/Categories: natural history, wildlife conservation, birds, marine life, sustainability, environment, climate change

dit                     Damselfish Palawan diving site, the Philippines  (credit: WWF/Jurgen Freund)

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Coral Triangle  

is the world's center of marine biodiversity covering nearly 2.5 million square mile area between Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Timor, and the Solomon Islands. Within this region occur 76% of the world’s coral species, 6 of the world’s 7 marine turtle species, and at least 2,228 species of known reef fishes.

Sometimes labeled "the Amazon of the Oceans", this vast zone is
also endangered by a diversity of environmental threats. In an attempt to reduce non-sustainable uses, a major designation as the world's first   conservation province  was just signed in hopes of preserving this remarkable diversity.

                                                        Coral Triangle Map  (credit: NOAA)

Why is this region so important and so threatened?

The WWF notes the staggering productivity of its marine and coastal ecosystems that provides benefits to sustain
120 million people directly connected to the  oceans resources as well as $2.4 billion of fisheries benefiting all of Southeast Asia and a $12 billion dollar nature-based tourism industry of visitors to the marine zone yearly.
  Conservation Province, West Papua (credit: WWF/Langenheim & Philippines dive site (credit: WWF/Freund)

The environmental threats are numerous and include many Riled Up has noted previously: illegal marine harvesting that is depleting local fish, shark, and manta ray populations; siltation and other forms of water pollution, and higher temperatures and ocean acidification from increasing carbon dioxide in the oceans causing coral bleaching. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has just  declared  that a third major coral bleaching event is unfolding worldwide and has already created massive bleaching of corals in Hawaii, the Caribbean, and elsewhere in the Pacific. Combining these "stressers" depletes the natural resources so important to this and other tropical marine environments.

Designating a new zone to conserve ocean environments and the communities supported by them should be celebrated. However, long-term sustainability of these marine ecosystem will require major efforts in controlling all of the threats posed by forces mostly outside the Coral Triangle itself.


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