November 25, 2010
Study on Semporna marine life
AN INTERNATIONAL team of marine biologists from Malaysia, the Netherlands and the
United States will be on an expedition to assess the rich biodiversity of marine life off Semporna in Sabah from
Nov 29 to Dec 19.
This Semporna Marine Ecological Expedition (SMEE) will assess marine biodiversity
and coral reef health in the Semporna Priority Conservation Area, which is recognised as a globally outstanding
area in the Sulu-Sulawesi marine eco-region.
Organised by the World Wildlife Fund-Malaysia, Universiti Malaysia Sabah,
Universiti Malaya (UM) and the Netherlands Centre for Biodiversity (NCB) Naturalis, the expedition’s objectives are
to assess the reef’s biodiversity, status and population health.
Reef area: Sibuan island in Semporna
It will enhance conservation and outreach efforts through better understanding of
Semporna’s marine ecosystem.
A modified reef-check method and reef profiling will be used at two depths to take
“snapshots” of the reef’s health.
Jointly heading the expedition are Dr Bert Hoeksema of NCB Naturalis, who will
lead the biodiversity team, and Affendi Yang Amri of UM, who will lead the coral reef status team.
Semporna is unusual because of its rich mix of reef types representing five major
Such areas have high levels of biodiversity because of a mix of habitat types and
Special appearance: A mushroom-shaped coral (Lithophyllon Ranjithi) found in waters off Semporna.
There are strong indications that the Semporna area and the Berau region in
Indonesia share some rare and unique species.
The expedition is based on methods used in other areas off Indonesia, Papua New
Guinea, the Philippines and Solomon Islands since 1998.
There are a few examples of similar studies done previously in
The expedition can be followed on the blog at www.ncbnaturalis.nl, where the
expedition members will give updates on their daily work and share findings through images and short
Results from the expedition will be announced at a press conference in Kota
Kinabalu on Dec 20.
SMEE is made possible by funding from Adessium Foundation.
Photos courtesy of WWF Malaysia
Source: The Star