West Madagascar Marine Ecoregion | WWF

West Madagascar Marine Ecoregion

Sunset from uninhabited Cosmeledo. An island just north of Madagascar. Part of the Seychelles

About the Area
Quiet lagoons, submerged reefs and islands, fringing reefs, and one of the world's few double barrier reefs are found here.

One of the barrier reefs is 124 miles (200 km) long. These different habitats are home to numerous species, including more than 200 corals, 400 mollusks, and 550 fish.

The very rare "living fossil fish," the coelacanth (Lahimeria chalumnae), is found here.

Local Species
Fish include the silvertip shark (Carcharinus albimarginatus) and the threatened kei goby (Oligdepis keimsis).

More familiar to many people are the two breeding species of turtles: hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) and green (Chelonia mydas). Other sea turtle species are occasionally observed, including the leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), loggerhead (Caretta caretta), and olive ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea).

An outstanding diversity and quantity of cetaceans are found including sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus), breeding humpback whale (Megaptera novaengliae), spectacled porpoise (Australophaena dioptrica), Burmeister’s porpoise (Phoceona spinipinnis), dusky dolphin (Lagenorhynchus obscurus), Andrew’s (Mesoplodon bowdoini) and Blainville’s (M. densirostris) beaked whales.

The dugong (Dugong dugon) is also found in these waters, but are rare due to overhunting


  • Livestock grazing, deforestation, construction, destruction of sandbars, and poor agricultural practices result in the runoff of sediments that harm the coral reefs in this ecoregion.
  • DDT and other pesticides, oil, and raw sewage contaminate the water.
  • Coral is mined for cement, and both coral and shells are taken to sell to collectors.
  • Overfishing and destructive fishing practices are serious concerns.
  • Nearby Comoros and Seychelle's reefs suffered greatly during a 1998 coral bleaching episode.

Habitat type:
Tropical Coral

Geographic Location:
Southwestern Indian Ocean, east of Mozambique

Conservation Status:
Relatively intact

Did you know?

Compared to many coral reefs, the ones around Madagascar are quite young. The most recent one formed "only" about 10,000 years ago.

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