Home»Galleries»Raja Ampat, Indonesia - greatest coral reef biodiversity in the world - May 05 & Oct 07
The island of New Guinea, lying directly north of Australia, is the second largest island in the world. It is comprised of two parts. The eastern half of the island is the independent country of Papua New Guinea, and the western half is the eastern-most province of the country of Indonesia. This province was previously called Irian Jaya and has now been renamed West Papua. Off the west coast of West Papua lie four major islands called Raja Ampat. (In the Bahasa Indonesia language, “Raja” means “king,” and “Ampat” means “four.”)
An area known as the “Coral Triangle,” composed of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste, is considered to be the heart of the world’s coral reef biodiversity; and the diversity of the incredible Raja Ampat coral reef ecosystem is far greater than any other area within the Coral Triangle.
But this ray of hope does net seem to apply to the threat posed by the increasing acidity of the world’s oceans that results from the dissolution of carbon dioxide in saltwater. In particular, it is important to understand that the ocean is the world’s largest “carbon sink,” absorbing more atmospheric carbon dioxide than even the world’s boreal forests and rainforests. In fact, the oceans of the world are presently absorbing a net two billion tons of carbon dioxide each year!
When carbon dioxide dissolves in the sea, a chemical reaction creates carbonic acid; and this increased acidity reduces the ability of corals and other marine calcifiers to form their skeletons and their shells. According to the Encyclopedia of Climate and Weather, as a result of this increasing acidification of the world’s seawater, “. . . reefs are expected to begin to crumble and disappear. . . .”