Widespread bleaching among Indonesia's corals due to El Nino: Report

Coral reefs at Indonesia's protected Bunaken Island marine national park on May 14, 2009.
Coral reefs at Indonesia's protected Bunaken Island marine national park on May 14, 2009.PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (Bernama) - The El Nino weather phenomenon that occurred between 2015 and 2016 caused widespread coral bleaching in Indonesian waters, Indonesia's Antara news agency reported.

El Nino triggered a rise in the water temperature, and this condition caused coral bleaching, Dirhamsyah, head of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences' (LIPI) Oceanography Research Centre, was quoted as saying on Wednesday (June 7).

He warned that coral bleaching may occur more frequently due to climate change and global warming.

Other factors affecting the country's coral reefs include destructive fishing activities using explosives, water pollution, and development activities in the coastal areas.

LIPI has released a report on the latest condition of Indonesian coral reefs in 2017.

Based on data from verification and analyses conducted in 108 locations and 1,064 stations across the Indonesian waters, 6.39 per cent of the country's coral reefs are in excellent condition, 23.40 per cent in good condition, 35.06 per cent in moderate condition, and 35.15 per cent are in poor condition.

Suharsono, a senior researcher at the LIPI Oceanography Research Centre, said Indonesia's coral reefs are found in waters the westernmost province of Aceh to the Merauke waters in the easternmost province of Papua.

The highest distribution concentration is in the central and eastern Indonesian waters including the waters of Sulawesi, Papua, Nusa Tenggara, and Maluku, which is also called the coral triangle core.

Based on the latest satellite imagery mapping, Indonesia's coral reefs are spread across an area of 25 thousand square kilometers, or around 10 per cent of the world's coral reef measuring 284,300 square kilometers.

" Indonesia has the highest number of coral reef species on the planet - 569 species from 82 families and 15 tribes - out of the total 845 coral reef species in the world," he said.

He cited as an example that Indonesia has 94 species of Acropora corals (Acropora sp), or 70 per cent of the 124 found across the world. Caribbean has only three species.