What is biodiversity and what does it mean to the average diver?
Biodiversity is a measure of the variety of species that can be found in an ecosystem.
Wakatobi is located in an area that encompasses the highest coral reef biodiversity in
the world. But why it so prolific in our part of the world, and what does it mean to
the average diver?
Why so diverse?
Many factors determine the overall number of species in an ecosystem. Historically,
for instance, the region bordered by Indonesia, the Philippines and New Guinea
was never severely affected by two great ice ages which caused mass species
die-offs in other regions. For this reason, the region is considered to be
the epicenter of coral reef biodiversity. 85% of the world's coral reefs are
located in the Indo-Pacific region, and as you travel either east or west from
the epicenter of biodiversity, the number of species decreases. At the Western
edge of the Indian Ocean, or the Eastern edge of the Pacific, you will only
find about 25% of the number of species that are present at Wakatobi. The Atlantic/Caribbean
region has even less diversity, less than one tenth the number of species found
in the Indo-Pacific. For instance, the Atlantic/Caribbean region has fewer
than 70 species of corals while the Indo-Pacific has over 700 species.
The environment also influences biodiversity. Coral reef ecosystems
need warm, clear waters to thrive. If there's too much runoff from
large rivers or urban growth nearby, the reefs can be choked by siltation
or pollution. The waters must be warm, but not too warm. Below 25 C,
coral growth is retarded. Above 29 C, the symbiotic algae living in
the corals begins to die off and stress the corals. Depth is important
too. Very shallow waters have too much temperature fluctuation and
disruptive wave and surge action. Too deep, and light is diminished,
which decreases diversity. At about 20 M depth, there is plenty of
light, and not much wave action, even during large storms, so more
species can survive.
Why is biodiversity important for divers?
That's simple. When you go on a dive vacation, you want to see lots of stuff.
But you don't what to just see lots of the same stuff all the time. A biodiverse
reef in pristine condition lets you see more species with less effort. If you
are interested in seeing and learning about the most biodiverse coral reef
region in the world, it's time for you to start planning a trip to Wakatobitoday!