'Immediate protection' needed for Pitcairn's marine bounty

International team of scientists reported that the waters have "unique global value that is irreplaceable".

'Immediate protection' needed for Pitcairn's marine bounty

World Bulletin / News Desk

Researchers say that "immediate protection" is required for the waters around the remote Pitcairn Islands in the Pacific, home to one of the world's rarest and most valuable collections of marine species.

International team of scientists reported that the waters have "unique global value that is irreplaceable".

In the 18th century, they've carried out the first underwater surveys of the deep and shallow waters around the islands, best known for their connection to the mutiny on the Royal Navy ship, Bounty.

The group of islands are found halfway between New Zealand and South America, which are said to be further from a continent than any other inhabited island.

"It is a treasure trove of marine species," Dr Enric Sala told BBC News.

"People know about the mutiny on the Bounty but the true bounty of the Pitcairn's is underwater."
Healthy coral reefs and an abundance of fish, around half of them not found anywhere else in the world were discovered.

The number of top predators like sharks that scientists recorded is a key indicator of the water's good state.

The purity of the water was the most significant discovery. The scientists found a type of coralline algae living deeper than anywhere else on earth.

"It lives at 382m that's more than 100m deeper than the previous record, because of the clarity of the water," said Dr Sala.

"It also allows coral reefs to grow to depths that are incredible elsewhere, we found well developed reefs between 75 and 100m below the surface."

They argue that plans to turn the islands into one of the world's biggest marine reserves should go ahead as soon as is practicable.

The islanders have voted in favour of the approach to create a 836,000 sq km protected zone around the islands, the plan has been submitted to the UK government.

The scientists say the time is right for the Pitcairns to follow suit.

"These islands are like a time machine, that allow us to get back hundreds of years to see what we have lost," said Dr Sala.

"But we can also to determine what we want for the future."

Their report is published in the journal, PLOS One.

Last Mod: 26 Haziran 2014, 16:33
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