Many people fantasize about swimming in the tropical coral reef, but very few actually get the chance to do so. For those who are unable to make the trip, Drs. Gerald Allen and Mark Erdmann of the Conservation Institute are bringing the magic of the reef to you with their series “Reef Fishes of the East Indies”.
The Coral Triangle, an area off the coasts of Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, the Solomon Islands, the Philippines, and Timor-Leste, is a 1.6 billion acre marine population in dire need of human protection. According to The Nature Conservancy, “The Coral Triangle contains 75 percent of all known coral species, shelters 40 percent of the world’s reef fish species and provides for millions of people.” But the area is at risk due to pollution, badly planned development and poor fishing practices, says the World Wildlife Fund.
The threat of losing this extraordinary ecosystem led to the creation of the Coral Triangle Initiative in 2007.The initiative is a partnership between the six surrounding countries to preserve and protect the region and the marine life living in the coral.
But information about the area was lacking. "The need for an up-to-date reference to the reef fishes of this region has been obvious for decades, as scientists have traditionally relied on outdated monumental works such as M. Weber & L.F. de Beaufort's 'Fishes of the Indo-Australian Archipelago', published as 11 volumes between 1911 and 1962,” said Dr. Allen. “I'm proud to note that we've nearly doubled the number of reef fishes previously reported from the region."
While there is much research left to be done in the area, "Reef Fishes of the East Indies" outlines over 2,500 species, including 25 newly-discovered ones. Dr. Erdmann hopes that this publication will aid the Coral Triangle Initiative in their preservation efforts. “It is our sincere hope that this book will both inspire the people of the Coral Triangle to further appreciate the tremendous marine biodiversity they are custodians of, while also helping guide governmental efforts to better manage their marine resources for the benefit of their citizenry,” he said in the press release.
Below are a sampling of photos from “Reef Fishes of the East Indies”. Which fish is your favorite?
All photos and captions courtesy of Conservation International and "Reef Fishes of the East Indies".