The northern Mozambique Channel has the highest diversity of corals in the central, northern and western Indian Ocean, according to a 10 year study of the region that was published in the PLoS One Journal. Researchers identified 369 coral species in the region and found that the northern Mozambique Channel had the largest number of species at 297. Reefs in northern Kenya, the Gulf of Aden, and the Seychelles Islands had close to 200 species. This number of species may eventually approach 450, which would be the equivalent number of species found on the Great Barrier Reef and Andama Islands, according to the report.
Coastal Oceans Research and Development in the Indian Ocean (CORDIO) conducted the study to assess the western Indian ocean’s biodiversity and biogeographic patterns of coral reef species. CORDIO sampled 21 locations during the study which occurred between 2002 and 2011.
It also studied how the area’s oceanography creates and sustains diversity. This diversity makes the region a priority for managing the areas marine resources, and understanding the biogeographic patterns of these species helps to formulate plans for conservation planning. The report also states that the reefs are threatened by such things as climate change, population growth, overfishing, urbanization, oil and gas exploitation and tourism.
The complete article can be found at the PLoS One website.