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Rare Sea Life Available by the Kilo at Bali's Fish Markets

Groundbreaking Study Demonstrates that Indonesia is Home to the World's Richest Array of Underwater Fauna.

(3/3/2007) National Geographic News report that a five-year study seeking new and rare fish species in Indonesia have discovered an entire range of heretofore unknown species, including at least 20 new species of sharks and rays.

The method used to discover and catalogue new Indonesian fish species was by regular visits to local fish markets by ichthyologists who purchased exotic and often undiscovered species on sale to the public.

The study, carried out at 11 ports across Indonesia including Bali's fish market, resulted in 130 species being studied. The frequency with which new species were encountered in local fish markets and the area from which they were fished are also providing scientists with clues to the size of fish populations, the impact of fishing, and strategies for species conservation.

While the results of the study will be gradually published over time, six new species have already been examined in leading scientific journals. Among the new species found by the Australian-led team of scientists in Bali are the Balinese catshark, the Jimbaran shovelnose ray and the Hortle's whipray.

Indonesia is generally considered to have one of the most diverse array of sharks and rays in the world with the latest study filling substantial gaps in scientific knowledge.

The data collected in the studies forms a part of a new field-guide entitled "Economically Important Sharks and Rays of Indonesia", available in both English and Indonesian.

Hopefully, this valuable new knowledge base on the fish species found in Bali's waters will enhance conservation efforts, allowing future generations of scuba enthusiasts to view these rare species in local waters instead of at the local fish markets.