Semporna Marine Ecological Expedition

December 7, 2010 at 10:00 am

As the weather all over the world warms up, we are not the only ones experiencing its negative effects. The underwater world, particularly corals, is also in jeopardy of fading from the face of the earth with rising sea water temperatures. A slight increase in water temperature, even a mere 1 or 2 degrees can contribute to a phenomenon known as coral bleaching, which will eventually see the death of these beautiful corals as well as the habitats that depend on it. With the recent closure of several marine parks in Malaysia, it is evident that the problem is now closer to home, prompting the government to undertake measures alleviate this matter.

Clownfish

In light of this, more proactive measures have been adopted by certain parties to preserve the underwater coral reef life. The Semporna Marine Ecological Expedition, starting from the 29th November 2010, will see marine biologists from Malaysia, the Netherlands and the United States working together for three weeks to document the biodiversity of the marine life and an assessment of the health of coral reef life in Semporna. This expedition is jointly organised by WWF Malaysia, Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), University of Malaya (UM) and the Netherlands Centre for Biodiversity Naturalis (NCB Naturalis) with partners from the Malaysian government and Old Dominion University (USA). One of the main objectives of the expedition is to document and monitor the area to address any potential issues which may harm the coral reefs and to contribute to a better knowledge on how to conserve the area effectively.

Semporna was chosen as the point of observation as it is located within the Coral Triangle, which is the epicentre of coral life on the planet. The importance of the Coral Triangle to the sea is what the Amazon rainforest is to land. It covers around 6 million square kilometres of ocean across six countries in the Indo-Pacific – Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste and the marine area contains more than 500 species of reef-building corals. The expedition will have periodic updates on its blog at http://www.ncbnaturalis.nl/en/. The blog also includes interesting short video clips such as the one below.

Photos (c) josh-n, prilfish

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