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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.

Sibuan island in Semporna
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 geomorphological types.

Such areas have high levels of biodiversity because of a mix of habitat types and ecosystems.

Mushroom shared coral
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 Malaysia.

The expedition can be followed on the blog at, where the expedition members will give updates on their daily work and share findings through images and short videos.

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




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