Bali Marine Survey Turns Up Nine Potentially New Species and Finds Coral Reefs Are Recovering
In a recent survey of the reefs off the Indonesian island of Bali, scientists discovered what they suspect are nine new species—one coral and eight fish, including the metallic, adorably glum-looking cardinalfish pictured above. (Scroll down for more photos.) Further study will need to be done to confirm the taxonomy of each species.
Over two weeks, scientists with Conservation International in Indonesia, along with local partners, took stock of the biodiversity at 33 underwater sites, nearly circling the island.
"There was a tremendous variety of habitats, surprisingly high levels of diversity and the coral reefs appeared to be in an active stage of recovery from bleaching, destructive fishing and crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks in the 1990's,” said Mark Erdmann, senior advisor for the CI Indonesia marine program, in a statement.
This survey, combined with another in November 2008, documented 953 species of reef fish and 397 species of coral in the waters off the coast of Bali. While many of the findings from the most recent investigation were encouraging—including a seven-to-one ratio of live to dead coral—commercially important reef fish were severely depleted. For instance, the team only observed a total of three reef sharks and three Napoleon wrasse in all 350 man-hours of diving.
The findings will help the Bali government assess reef health and provide management recommendations for 25 areas proposed to be developed into a network of Marine Protected Areas, which will be designed to be ecologically connected and resilient.
Here's a look at the rest of the potentially new species: