While snorkeling off Loh Island, I had the opportunity for the first time to try some underwater photography, borrowing a friend’s underwater point-and-shoot camera. The results will give you an impression of the area, but are pretty basic compared with some of the photographs made with big digital cameras enclosed in giant waterproof housings and external strobe lights.
The area we were in is at the southeast corner of what’s known among divers and scientists as the “Coral Triangle.” This is regarded as one of the world’s most biologically diverse underwater regions – rich in not just corals (living animals, not stone or rock formations!) but fish and other underwater fauna.
“The Coral Triangle is a marine area located in the western Pacific Ocean. It includes the waters of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and Solomon Islands. Named for its staggering number of corals (nearly 600 different species of reef-building corals alone), the region nurtures six of the world’s seven marine turtle species and more than 2,000 species of reef fish. The Coral Triangle also supports large populations of commercially important tuna, fueling a multi-billion dollar global tuna industry. Over 120 million people live in the Coral Triangle and rely on its coral reefs for food, income and protection from storms. Current levels and methods of harvesting fish and other resources are not sustainable and place this important marine area and its people in jeopardy. A changing climate threatens coastal communities and imperils fragile reefs. The challenge ahead is to develop sustainable solutions for the Coral Triangle’s inhabitants and protect one of the most diverse marine habitats on Earth at the same time. Together with conservation partners and the governments of the region, WWF works to safeguard this important region for its people and the world… The Coral Triangle hosts an astonishing amount of marine life. Seventy-five percent of the world’s coral species are found here… and this is an important place for tuna to spawn. Whales, dolphins, porpoises, dugongs and whale sharks feed, breed and migrate in these waters.” — from the World Wildlife Federation’s website: www.worldwildlife.com