Tag Archives: Indonesia

Basking shark seen for first time in Indonesia

A recent stranding of a basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) in north-western Bali is the first confirmed record of this large, filter-feeding shark species in Indonesian waters.

The shark was an adult male. It is possible that the Indonesian throughflow – the warm ocean current which moves water from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean – is an important route for basking sharks during their migrations.

Once thought of as a strictly cool-water species, basking sharks move to tropical seas each winter. While commonly sighted in surface waters in northern Europe and America during summer and autumn months, they disappear during winter. An article in 1954 even suggested that they hibernate on the ocean floor during this time.

Basking shark in European waters by Tim Nicholson
Basking shark in European waters (Isle of Man) by Tim Nicholson

More recently satellite tagging showed that basking sharks instead migrate through tropical waters, travelling at depths of 200 to 1,000 meters and unseen by humans.

The basking shark is the second largest shark after the whale shark (Rhincodon typus). It can grow up to 11 metres long and weigh up to 7 tonnes. It feeds by filtering plankton through its gills whilst swimming with its huge mouth open.

Basking shark
Basking shark and snorkellers by Chris Gotschalk

Further Reading
Marine Biodiversity Records / Volume 8 / 2015DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1755267214001365, Published online: 28 January 2015

Transequatorial Migrations by Basking Sharks in the Western Atlantic Ocean. Skomal, Gregory B.; Zeeman, Stephen I.; Chisholm, John H.; Summers, Erin L.; Walsh, Harvey J.; McMahon, Kelton W.; Thorrold, Simon R.

Images: Green Fire Productions CC by 2.0, Tim Nicholson, Chris Gotschalk

Indonesia Coral Reefs Thrive under Centuries Old System

A new study says that coral reefs in Aceh, Indonesia are benefiting from decidedly low-tech, traditional methods that date back to the 17th century.

Known as “Panglima Laot” – the system focuses on reducing conflict among communities over marine resources. According to the study, reefs benefitting from Panglima Laot contain eight times as many fish, and increased hard-coral cover. This is due to mutually agreed gear restrictions, especially prohibiting the use of nets.

The study, which appears in the October issue of the journal Oryx, is by Stuart Campbell, Rizya Ardiwijaya, Shinta Pardede, Tasrif Kartawijaya, Ahmad Mukmunin, Yudi Herdiana of the Wildlife Conservation Society; and Josh Cinner, Andrew Hoey, Morgan Pratchett, and Andrew Baird of James Cook University.

The authors say Panglima Laot has a number of design principles associated with successful fisheries management institutions. These include clearly defined membership rights, rules that limit resource use, the right of resource users to make, enforce and change the rules, and graduated sanctions and mechanisms for conflict resolution. These principles are the key to the ability of the institution to reduce conflict among communities, provide sustainable access to marine resources, and limit the destruction of marine habitats.

“No-take fishing areas can be impractical in regions where people rely heavily on reef fish for food,” said the study’s lead author Dr. Stuart Campbell of the Wildlife Conservation Society. “The guiding principle of Panglima Laot was successful in minimizing habitat degradation and maintaining fish biomass despite ongoing access to the fishery. Such mechanisms to reduce conflict are the key to success of marine resource management, particularly in settings which lack resources for enforcement.”

However, the institution has not been uniformly successful. In particular, reef conditions in the adjacent island group of Pulau Aceh were poor possibly because of destructive fishing and poor coastal management. The precise causes of this breakdown of the Panglima Laot system are the focus of current research efforts in the region.

Other work by WCS and James Cook University suggests that fishers who are poorer and had lower levels of participation in resource management, had correspondingly lower levels of both trust in local institutions and involvement in community events. These groups subsequently felt less benefit from the customary PL system. In these places fishing is largely uncontrolled.

Further Reading
Wildlife Conservation Society

Pristine dive sites in North Sulawesi spared

North Sulawesi, including areas of outstanding natural beauty above and below sea level such as Bunaken National Park, Lembeh Strait and Bangka Island, has been spared an environmental tragedy. The Indonesian Ministry of Environment recently announced that a gold mine operation, which was threatening to dump millions of tons of waste into the sea in North Sulawesi, will not be allowed to do so. British-registered “Archipelago Holdings” gold mine (operating locally as “MSM”), threatened to dump up to 1,500,000 tons of ground up mining waste into the sea, between the award-winning Bunaken National Park and the famous Lembeh Strait.

Marine biologists acknowledge that North Sulawesi is the centre of marine bio-diversity on the planet. It is now a popular destination for discerning dive tourists, earmarked to become a World Heritage Site.

The North Sulawesi Watersports Association (NSWA), which represents many of the area’s dive resorts, helped achieve this important victory in the protection of a unique marine habitat. The NSWA launched a local media campaign to raise awareness of the threat, even presenting the case to representatives of the Indonesian Parliament.

The Ministry’s announcement comes as welcome news for sustainable development. However, concern still remains about how the gold mine will dispose of its waste. It is believed that it is now planning to dump it on land, but this could lead to new threats. Local environmentalists are worried that toxic bi-products of the mining process could end up in the area’s water, creating a health risk to the local population. Also, that an earthquake, in this seismically active area, could trigger a landslide. (A recent earthquake in Papua led to a deadly landslide at another mine.)

To support the continuing campaign or read more on this story, visit www.divenorthsulawesi.com. Alternatively contact Richard Parks at RP Marketing in the UK; email rpmarketg@aol.com.

Start a discussion about this news.

Subscribe to SCUBA News (ISSN 1476-8011) for more free news, articles, diving reports and marine life descriptions – http://www.scubatravel.co.uk/news.html

50 New Species Discovered in Indonesia, Including Walking Sharks

More than 50 new species, including sharks, shrimp, and reef-building corals, have been found in Indonesian West Papua (Irian Jaya).

The region, however, is coming under increasing threat from a proposed national policy to increase commercial fisheries there.

Among the new species were two kinds of epaulette shark (Hemiscyllium sp.) – small, slender-bodied bottom-dwellers that use their pectoral fins to “walk” across the seafloor.

Also discovered were several new species of “flasher” wrasses – named for the brilliantly colored displays the normally drab males flash to entice females to mate – along with fairy basslets, damselfishes, and a new jawfish. The scientists recorded a total of 1,233 species of coral reef fishes, at least 23 of them endemic.

Of more than 600 known species of coral in the region, nearly all were found within the team’s survey sites. Six sites surveyed proved to have the highest diversity of hard corals ever recorded, each with more than 250 species within a single hectare.

“That’s more than four times the number of coral species of the entire Caribbean Sea in an area roughly the size of two football fields,” says Conservation International’s Mark Erdmann.

The team found widespread evidence of bomb-fishing – a practice used to stun fish that are collected for food, or as bait for the lucrative shark fin industry. “On several survey dives, we heard reef-shattering explosions in the vicinity,” says Erdmann.

A plan to transfer fisheries pressure from Indonesia’s over-fished western seas eastward toward the surveyed region may exacerbate these threats.

“We are now closely examining the survey recommendations and may support the development of a network of fisheries reserves in the region to safeguard this priceless national heritage,” says Yaya Mulyana, head of the Indonesian Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Affairs’ Marine Conservation Department.

Source: Conservation International

Subscribe to SCUBA News (ISSN 1476-8011) for more free news, articles, diving reports and marine life descriptions – http://www.scubatravel.co.uk/news.html

Preserve the Manta Ray in Indonesia

Manta RayA Flying Manta Project has been initiated by Ivan Choong who is “proud to be using my skills with underwater photography to contribute back to conservation”.

The Manta ray has been listed on the 2005 IUCN Red List, along with four species of Mobula rays.

Thousands of Manta rays are slaughtered annually by fishermen in Indonesia, Mexico and although now illegal, the Philippines, for food and to supply powdered brachial elements for Asian traditional medicine. This demand has changed the Indonesian fishery from a subsistence fishery catching 200-300 Mantas/year to a commercial fishery catching between 1,000-2,400 Mantas/year.

Ivan hopes to increase governments’ and NGOs’ awareness of Manta rays’ vulnerability to fishing pressure. The long lifespan, late maturity and low reproductive rate of Manta rays make them a poor target fishery because they cannot quickly replace adults that are removed from a population. Mantas live 50–100 years, reach maturity at 8–10 years, and have only one pup every 1–3 years.

Ivan’s objective is to conduct research on the Manta rays in Bali with the aim of promoting Manta ray conservation in the SE Asia region. All data gathered will be analysed in collaboration with local researchers in Singapore, Indonesia and the Manta Pacific Research Foundation based in Hawaii.

There is a 95% success rate of spotting Mantas when diving at Manta Point (southwest Nusa Penida, Bali’s largest offshore island) so for Phase I of the project, for almost three weeks in Aug 06, Ivan looked into the migratory patterns of Mantas at Manta Point by cataloguing those sighted daily.

This was done by photographing the specific markings on their undersides, assigning a project number to each, and keeping records of the frequency of their visits to Manta Point; as well as keeping records of daily weather and tidal conditions, the time of day, and the number of Mantas at the start of each dive.

For Phase II, in August 2007: the project will expand to include more participants and guest researchers.

For Phase III, in August 2008: an increased number of participants and continuation of data collection.

Anyone wishing further information can contact Ivan on: flyingMantaproject@i-nsc.net

Source: Aquamarine Diving Bali

Subscribe to SCUBA News (ISSN 1476-8011) for more free news, articles, diving reports and marine life descriptions – http://www.scubatravel.co.uk/news.html