Thursday, June 23, 2022

Coral Reef and Marine Biodiversity in Indonesia

Indonesia is a country that is in the center of coral triangle. It is also located between the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean. The coral reef in Indonesia has got the highest marine biodiversity in the world. Raja Ampat, Triton Bay and Cendrawasih Bay National Park in West Papua province, as well as Wakatobi and Bunaken National Park of Indonesia, attract the attention of people from around the world to explore its beauty and wealth of its marine creatures. 

marine life in Raja Ampat

They come as marine biologists, recreational scuba divers, or just as ordinary visitors who like to walk and swim at white sandy beaches of Indonesia. Coral reef has now become a tourist attraction. Actually this is an additional pressure to coral reef environment. 

Bird's Head Seascape (Cendrawasih Bay in Wondama regency; Raja Ampat; and Triton Bay in Kaimana regency) which covers huge coral reef area in West Papua is the natural habitat of 1,864 species of reef fish and more than 600 corals. 

Birds Head Seascape also has got huge area of mangrove forest. These precious marine environment can be considered as fish factory. The plants along the coast provide food, construction materials and herbal medicines to the indigenous people who live in remote islands. They are not able to have quick access modern health clinics and hospitals in cities such as Sorong and Manokwari. They mostly depend on herbs from coastal plants around their villages.

For islanders in remote islands, coral reef is seen as their source of livelihood. They go there to catch fish, shrimp, and collect sea cucumber and seashells that have got high economic value. 

scuba diving in Raja Ampat
Diving in Raja Ampat islands

Unfortunately, coral reef is being massively destroyed by human whether we realize it or not. Our use of plastic bags, wrappings, and bottles and chemical substances is increasing every year. They become wastes that are harmful to the environment. Sea turtles eat the transparent plastic wrappings as if they are jellyfish. There are still a lot of factories that dump their chemical wastes into the river or the sea. They kill tiny organisms that live in coral reef. A lot of cities and towns still do not have proper sewage water treatment systems. Dirty and toxic water continues to pollute our seas. This happens globally. In other waters marine pollution is world wide problem.

We can start to overturn this phenomenon. We can reject plastic bags when we do shopping at supermarkets. We can increase our purchase of foods that are wrapped by environmentally friendly materials such as leaves from banana or teakwood trees. We can reduce our dependence on chemical liquids by finding more environmentally friendly materials. 

The exploitation of natural resources in coral reef has to be regulated so that it will not cause any damages to the precious marine environment.  Coral reef has to be preserved. Coral reef plays very important role in our environment. There are a lot of species of filter feeding animals in coral reef. Some of them include Snake Sea Cucumber (Synapta maculata), Christmas Tree Worm (Spirobranchus giganteus), clams, krill, sea cucumber, small fishes and even some sharks. They clean the seawater making it crystal clear and healthier for all living organisms in the sea. 

Zooxanthellae algae performs photosynthesis that produce oxygen and food for marine animals in the coral reef. In other words coral reef is the rainforest.

A well managed marine protected area can preserve coral reef and at the same time bring prosperity to local people who live in this fragile marine environment. 

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