Azara Blog: Underwater biodiversity hotspot in the Caribbean

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Date published: 2006/02/14

The BBC says:

An underwater mountain with some of the richest diversity of marine life in the Caribbean has been found by scientists.

During a two-week dive researchers discovered scores more species of fish than previously known in the region and vast beds of "seaweed cities".

But the team says the biodiversity hotspot is in danger: oil tankers in the area threaten the fragile reefs.

The researchers are hoping to get the area protected by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

The find was made in the Saba Bank Atoll, a coral-crowned seamount, 250km south-east of Puerto Rico in the Netherlands Antilles.

It is ranked as the third largest atoll in the world and has an enormous active reef.

As with most things in life, if you look you will find. And scientists always have to hype their finds to get any attention in the world. But this site certainly seems worthy of protection, if anything is. Shipping generally, and not just oil tankers, cause problems for reefs. The Banda Islands in Indonesia have some wonderful reefs, and the main damage is caused from fishing boats dropping their anchors. Of course the underwater ecosystem is largely out of sight, so damage to it does not produce such great media attention as, say, burning down forests.

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