I feel just..so proud of Sabah when I read this- Semporna, a town located in the east coast of Sabah may have the highest marine diversity in the world. I repeat, in capital letters, IN THE WORLD!!! Top #1! Well actually might be top #1, but this maybe-yes-maybe-not statement is just enough to make me even more proud to say I'm a Sabahan.
Image from blog.ncbnaturalis.nl
There were 18 scientists from various countries such as yours truly, Malaysia, Netherlands and United States of America (USA) who have spent 3 weeks in the Semporna Marine Ecological Expedition (SMEE) 2010 project, examining the reefs of Semporna and documenting the richness of mushroom corals, reef fish, shrimps, gall crabs, ovulid snails and algae. They were the ones who concluded that Semporna may have the highest marine diversity in the world!
In a press conference, Dr. Bert Hoeksema, Department Head of marine Zoology in the Netherlands Centre for Biodiversity (NCB) Naturalis (main sponsor of the project) said that they found 43 species of mushroom corals- the highest number since the record of 40 corals in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.
Image from malaysia.com
They also found a total of 844 species of fish, over 90 species of coral shrimp and over 100 species of algae at 62 surrounding sites.
New Species Found
The team discovered a couple of gall crab and coral shrimp species that were new to science and a rare mushroom coral species, named lithophyllon ranjithi. Sounds like Indian eyh? xD
Only 5% of the live coral were in excellent preservation while 23% had good cover and astounding 36% (I try not to over-exaggerate here) fair cover and 36% in adverse health. Holy man!
"We saw nets, traps, lines, craters in the coral reefs from blasting, unexploded detonators", Dr Bert told.
He pointed out that for an urgent action before over-fishing, fish bombings and pollution that is destroying the haven for the rich marine life. He also suggested to promote diving tourism, which is what the area is famous for.
I hope something is being done right now as I type. This is our hope to attract more tourist to Sabah for crying out loud! We all too, as the public, should co-operate to love our seashores more. Avoid spilling oil for example. =)
Source from Bernama