Marine conservation in Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia

The east coast of Sulawesi lines the Banda Sea, the second most biodiverse marine area of Indonesia. But local threats remains high even within the boundaries of marine protected areas. These pictures are part of work done with the conservation organization Naturevolution and its local partners in the rich natural ecosystems of Southeast Sulawesi.

Pak Habib and the fight to protect giant clams

If Sulawesi is a biodiversity hotspot, it is even more so for giant clams, the oceans’ largest bivalve molluscs, with 8 species found locally out of a total of 13 (genera Tridacna and Hippopus). Yet giant clams, despite enjoying the highest level of protection in Indonesia, are easy prey for poachers. Pak Habib, a native of Southeast Sulawesi, set himself on a life mission to preserve Sulawesi’s giant clams, setting up the Toli Toli Giant Clam Conservation organization and enlisting the local Bajau communities into a project of relocating larger individuals to areas where they can be effectively protected.

The Crown-of-thorns starfish issue

The Crown-of-thorns (Acanthaster planci) is a species of corallivore starfish native to the reefs of the Indo-Pacifc at a very low population density – a few individuals per hectare. However, under certain circumstances not yet fully understood by researchers nor easily identifiable, crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS) can proliferate into population outbreaks ranging from dozens to tens of thousands individuals. The resulting predation on corals can lead to up to 80% of coral mortality within 6 months. Under normal circumstances, a reef could recover in 15 to 25 years, but in the current era of multiple anthropogenic pressures, reefs present a risk of not being able to recover. The following pictures were taken when surveying with local freedivers and preparing for a COTS outbreaks mitigation project.

Marine conservation in Sulawesi | 2022 | Nature & Conservation | Tags: , , , | Comments (0)