Maldives, Chagos, Lakshadweep Atolls
About the Area
The Maldives comprises perhaps one of the world's most complex reef systems (1,300 low coral islands and sandbanks), while the Chagos Archipelago has the largest and some of the most diverse undisturbed reefs in the Indian Ocean that includes the world's largest atoll - the Great Chagos Bank, and many areas of endemic coral.
The tiny Lakshadweep Islands are built on top of coral reefs and covered in coral sand.
The Chagos reefs are of particular interest for the presence of an endemic coral, Ctenella chagius. The Maldives and Chagos islands are important nesting sites for Green turtles (Chelonia mydas) and seabirds.
Other species of interest include Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), Olive ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea), Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta), White tern (Gygis alba), lesser Frigatebird (Fregata ariel), common dolphin (Delphinus delphis), Cuvier's beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris), finless porpoise (Neophocaena phocaenoides), and the Blainsville's beaked whale (Mesoplodon densirostris).
The greatest threat to these reefs comes from the relatively rapid establishment, growth of the tourist industry, and the introduction of mechanised fishing. Coral mining, construction of groynes, breakwaters, and jetties, and anchor damage and siltation caused by speedboats are causing considerable damage as well.
Other threats include pollution, increased shipping traffic, risk of oil spills and dumping, inadequate waste disposal, and the overuse of water pumps and fertilisers for agriculture.Resources
Indian Ocean off southern Asia
How did Atolls come into existence in this ecoregion?
Volcanic eruptions created islands out of the sea, but for thousands of years some have been slowly sinking back down. The reefs and lagoons that remain formed complexes known as atolls.