Palau Marine

About the Area

The Palau Marine ecoregion contains some of the richest and most diverse coral reefs in the Pacific (about 300 species of coral), and some of the most intact examples of open Pacific coral atolls.
Most of the ecoregion's volcanic islands have become atolls, but some remain surrounded by a 70-mile (110 km) long barrier reef. These reefs harbour numerous communities of coral, fish, and marine mammals.

Local Species
These waters inhabit Finless porpoise (Neophocoena phoaenoides), Blainsville beaked whale (Mesoplodon densirostris), and Ginko-toothed beaked whale (M. ginkodens).

Invertebrate species include all seven known species of Giant clam (Tridacnidae spp.); Marine turtles include Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), Green turtle (Chelonia mydas), Leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), Olive ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea), and Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta).

Threats
Major problems include overfishing, destructive fishing practices such as the use of cyanide and dynamite, pelagic fishing for sharks, and outbreaks of Acanthaster planci (crown-of-thorns starfish).

Other threats come from sewage dumping, development activities, oil spills, hunting of local species (e.g., marine turtles), pesticide pollution, coastal dredging, and the use of reef material for construction.

Resources

Size:
N/A

Habitat type:
Tropical Coral

Geographic Location:
Pacific Ocean off Southeast Asia

Conservation Status:
Vulnerable

Quiz Time!

What are atolls and how did they come into existence in this ecoregion?

Answer:
For thousands of years, volcanic islands in the Palau Marine ecoregion have been slowly sinking into the sea, forcing surrounding reefs to grow higher. After the land has finally disappeared beneath the surface, only reefs and lagoons remain. These remarkable structures, known as atolls, look like saucers of water with coral reef rims.

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