60 million years in the making and in need of protection

August 16, 2012
60 million years in the making and in need of protection

More marine sanctuaries are the best way to protect Western Australia's unique marine biodiversity, according to an international collaboration led by The University of Western Australia.

Dr Tim Langlois, a research associate with UWA's Oceans Institute and lead author of a paper published this week in the international journal Global Ecology and Biogeography, said WA had long been known to have exceptional .

"We have a unique diversity of that have adapted to living in our low-productivity and stable seascape over the last 60 million years," Dr Langlois said.

"While Northern Europe and many parts of the world were in an ice age 150,000,000 years ago, here in Western Australia we have a much more stable and have been comparable over the last 60 million years. Our marine biodiversity has evolved in a very stable environment, buffered by the flow of the Leeuwin current that warms our seas during winter.

"This results in patterns of biodiversity and species seen nowhere else. In our stable system, many species have adapted by growing slowly, reproducing less and reaching great ages - attributes which make them very vulnerable to fishing," Dr Langlois said.

The recently announced Commonwealth Network and Ngari Capes Marine Park in State waters were a step in the right direction, he said.

"Marine sanctuaries can provide a ‘window to the past and vision for the future', provide the most efficient tool for understanding the effects of fishing and environmental change on marine biodiversity and are amazing places for the public to experience our marine environment," Dr Langlois said.

‘Studies have shown simply reserving areas for recreational fishing has neither allowed fish nor marine biodiversity to recover. Increased catches have been recorded along the boundaries of many marine sanctuaries.

"Research around Australia has shown the great value of marine sanctuaries to science, education and to support recruitment of fished species. Our research has shown that in Western Australia we need greater representation and replication of marine habitats in sanctuaries along our coastline."

Explore further: Nine new species for disappearing handfish family

Related Stories

Nine new species for disappearing handfish family

May 21, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Nine new species of handfish have been described by CSIRO in research that highlights an urgent need to better understand and protect the diversity of life in Australia's oceans.

Unprecedented Indian Ocean heatwave creates melting pot

July 23, 2012

(Phys.org) -- An unprecedented Indian Ocean heatwave that peaked in March 2011 with large impacts on marine organisms at Jurien Bay, 250km north of Perth, may provide crucial insights into how extreme climatic events affect ...

Recommended for you

Genomes uncover life's early history

August 24, 2015

A University of Manchester scientist is part of a team which has carried out one of the biggest ever analyses of genomes on life of all forms.

Rare nautilus sighted for the first time in three decades

August 25, 2015

In early August, biologist Peter Ward returned from the South Pacific with news that he encountered an old friend, one he hadn't seen in over three decades. The University of Washington professor had seen what he considers ...

Why a mutant rice called Big Grain1 yields such big grains

August 24, 2015

(Phys.org)—Rice is one of the most important staple crops grown by humans—very possibly the most important in history. With 4.3 billion inhabitants, Asia is home to 60 percent of the world's population, so it's unsurprising ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.