The Coral Triangle - the centre of marine biodiversity

Posted on 12 June 2007

No other place on Earth is as rich and varied in marine life as the Coral Triangle. Spanning Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Fiji and Northern Australia, this extraordinary expanse of ocean covers some 5.7 million km2. The Coral Triangle matches the richness and diversity of the Amazon rainforest.
No other place on Earth is as rich and varied in marine life as the Coral Triangle. Spanning Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Fiji and Northern Australia, this extraordinary expanse of ocean covers some 5.7 million km2. The Coral Triangle matches the richness and diversity of the Amazon rainforest.

It is home to:
  • 75% of all coral species known to science;
  • More than 3,000 species of reef fish and commercially valuable pelagic, or open ocean, species including yellowfin tuna, skipjack tuna, bigeye tuna, bumphead parrotfish, needlefish, Napoleon wrasse, and barracuda;
  • 6 of the 7 species of marine turtles including green, hawksbill, olive ridley, leatherback, loggerhead and flatback;
  • Migrating populations of whale sharks measuring up to about 20m, and massive manta rays, which are attracted to the region abundant plankton;
  • Marine mammals such as 22 species of dolphin (including spinner, spotted, bottlenose, and the endangered Irrawaddy dolphin), the endangered dugong or seacow, rare Bryde’s whale, short-finned pilot whale, sperm and dwarf sperm whale, humpback and Cuvier’s beaked whale.
The Coral Triangle is brimming with marine life, but it is also straining to support one of the highest human population densities in the world, providing food and income to about half a billion people. In the Philippines and Indonesia, coral reefs provide annual economic benefits estimated at US$1.6 billion and US$1.1 billion per year, respectively.

Stronger political will and concerted action amongst countries within the Coral Triangle are needed to conserve marine biodiversity, stop habitat destruction and effectively manage their marine resources. Today much of the region’s commercial fish stocks have been fully exploited or even fished beyond their limits. The destruction of marine resources is exacerbated by a lethal cocktail of extreme dependence of coastal economies, population growth and poverty.

WWF’s Coral Triangle Initiative is working to ensure the health of the region’s natural treasures and the millions of livelihoods that depend on it. Take part in our conservation efforts now and help us ensure that proper environmental, political and socio-economic management is put into place towards:
  • Building a sustainable live reef food fish trade,
  • Promoting sustainable tuna fisheries,
  • Financing Marine Protected Areas (MPA) for the future,
  • Creating an international MPA network for turtles and significantly reducing marine turtle bycatch in the Indo-Pacific, and
  • Reducing the impacts of climate change and tourism.