Thursday, January 09, 2014

Animal Planet presents landmark series ‘The Coral Triangle’

Press release and photos from Animal Planet

 THE CORAL TRIANGLE is a landmark series that unlocks the hidden secrets of the Ocean’s Amazon – a six million kilometre square area spanning Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and the Solomon Islands, that is considered to be the global centre of marine biodiversity. Premiering every Tuesday at 9 pm., starting January 14, this three-part documentary – captured with the grandeur of blue-chip cinematography and featuring some of the world’s foremost experts on the region – reveals THE CORAL TRIANGLE as a place of unrivalled marine diversity, beauty and biological significance. Explore previously uncharted depths of the ocean, discover species new to science, meet an assortment of local people whose livelihoods depend on THE CORAL TRIANGLE, and uncover why the region holds a vital key to the future of the world’s oceans and human sustainability. Encores every Wednesday at 4 pm. and Sunday at 6 pm.

THE CORAL TRIANGLE lies deep in the volcanic Indo-Pacific region, where two great oceans merge, and is bordered in the north by the Philippines, the west by Indonesia and Malaysia and the east by the Solomon Islands. It is a cauldron of biological variety, with the greatest assortment of aquatic species found anywhere in the world. We journey into the Ring of Fire, sending divers over 90 metres deep to reveal how THE CORAL TRIANGLE has emerged into a dynamic crucible of geo-evolution, a veritable hot spot of life enriched by volcanic activity, shifting tectonic plates and changing sea levels. This nutrient-rich, grand central station connects great deep sea wanderers like the whale sharks, manta rays and sperm and blue whales. Marine biologist Dr Benjamin Kahn studies and tracks the migration of these whales to understand what draws them to this region and why it is a critical path in their life journey. Renowned underwater explorer, Valerie Taylor, and marine scientist, Naneng Setiasih, then take viewers to remote Raja Ampat, the Indonesian gateway to THE CORAL TRIANGLE, to understand what makes it so biologically-rich and why its future health is critical to the well-being of other underwater ecosystems globally.

The series ends with acclaimed anthropologist, Dr Lawrence Blair taking viewers on an closer look at THE CORAL TRIANGLE  and  the  intimate connection  its  diverse  people – such as the bajau laut or sea gypsies –  have  with  the  rich  marine environment  that  surrounds  them. This place is not simply a biological wonder but also an economic epicentre. A new study1 called The Economics of Fisheries and Aquaculture in the Coral Triangle – commissioned by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and co-financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Australian Agency for International Development – estimates that reef fishes in THE CORAL TRIANGLE are worth US$3 billion, comprising 30 percent of the total value of commercial fisheries in the region. This figure is probably an underestimate as it does not include the value of small reef fish species eaten by tunas, estimated at US$150 million. The study also estimates that coral reef ecosystems in the region support employment of about 15 million small-scale fishers.

Science has only recently begun to understand the extraordinary significance this region has on the sustainability of the world’s ocean life and the millions of human beings who rely on it, just as the burgeoning pressures are manifested by the intense growing demands of global human consumption. The Reefs at Risk Revisited in the Coral Triangle report2 released in July 2012 by the US-based World Resources Institute, has raised the flag that more than 85 percent of reefs in THE CORAL TRIANGLE are directly threatened by local human activities, substantially more than the global average of 60 percent. The report highlighted that the greatest threats to the reefs in THE CORAL TRIANGLE are overfishing, watershed-based pollution and coastal development. When these threats are combined with recent coral bleaching, prompted by rising ocean temperatures, the percent of reefs rated as threatened increases to more than 90 percent.

THE CORAL TRIANGLE is now recognised as an area of acute ecological  importance and of great concern  by  many  governments  including  Indonesia, Malaysia,  Timor  Leste,  Papua  New  Guinea,  the  Philippines  and  the  Solomon  Islands. These countries have come together to form ‘The Coral Triangle Initiative’, which is urgently spreading ideas about sustainable fishing  practices  and  setting  up  marine  reserves  across  the  region  to ensure  pockets  of  this  fragile  ecosystem  are  protected  and  allowed  to  thrive. We follow marine  biologists as  they  fight  to  replenish biodiversity  by  establishing  vital  marine  reserves and sanctuaries,  like  Pulau Sipidan Marine Reserve in Sabah, a sanctuary recently officially protected by the Malaysian government, and a whale shark eco-tourism venture in Oslob, Philippines. But will these initiatives be enough to save THE CORAL TRIANGLE?

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