Marine ecosystem of Taiping Island hosts 90 new species

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Marine ecosystem of Taiping Island hosts 90 new species

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Taipei, April 22 (CNA) A group of local marine biologists have discovered 90 new species in the water surrounding Taiping Island, the largest of the Spratly Islands controlled by Taiwan in the disputed South China Sea, and found that the coral reefs are in good or excellent condition.

To mark the Earth Day Sunday, the Council of Agriculture held a premier of a documentary about the marine life of Taiping Island and released marine scientific research in the region to raise public awareness of environmental protection.

The recently concluded one-year research project was led by Cheng Ming-hsiu (鄭明修), research fellow in the Biodiversity Research Center of Academia Sinica.

Cheng characterized the marine ecosystem surrounding Taiping as a "hotspot" for marine biodiversity in the Spratly Islands, with a coral reef coverage rate reaching anywhere between 60 percent and 80 percent.

The marine ecosystem hosts a vast array of new species, including at least nine large invertebrates, 35 kinds algae and 46 types of coral reefs, he said.

In terms of abundance of habitats, microorganisms and marine life which also included various fish species with high economic values, it could be a match to Australis's Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest coral reef ecosystem, he said.

The well-conserved marine ecosystem could be touted as an example of protection the claimants in the region can look to, Cheng said. The claimants also include Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

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