A recent study has concluded that the waters off Weh Island, Sabang city, Aceh province, are home to 133 coral reef species, according to Nur Fadli, a researcher at Fishery and Marine Research Centre of Syiah Kuala University.
“Of the 133 species found, three were recently listed and five are potentially new species,” he said here on Tuesday.
Nur Fadli noted that the study on coral reefs was jointly conducted by the Fishery and Marine Research Centre of Syiah Kuala University, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University of Australia, Wildlife Conservation Society, and Flora and Fauna International.
“The results of this study show the uniqueness of coral reefs in Weh island and its vicinity. This is reflected in the species composition, which is a mix of Indo-Pacific and Indian Ocean coral reef species, as well as the ones which are commonly found in Indonesian waters,” he added.
According to Nur Fadli, the diversity of coral reefs in Weh Island waters is similar to that of Halmahera island in North Maluku province.
“Halmahera waters are also home to 130 species and are famous as the most diverse coral reef region in the northern waters of Indonesia,” he pointed out.
Compared with other regions in Indonesia, Nur Fadli added, the coral reefs in Weh Island waters are “unique despite having similarities with those in the Andaman Sea”.
“If Weh Island is considered as a representative of the Andaman Sea, the coral reef in the area should be jointly protected by Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar,” he stated.
“Protection should be first provided in the Coral Triangle region, covering the waters of the Philippines in the north, Solomon Island in the east, and Indonesia (Bali province) in the west,” Nur Fadli said.
The Coral Triangle is home to 605 coral reef species, which account for 76 percent of the total number of recorded coral reef species in the world. However, overfishing is threatening their survival in the region.