August 25, 2016. Water / Oceans
Abrolhos harbors the highest marine biodiversity in the southern Atlantic. It owes its extreme richness in both species and habitats to the huge area of shallow water covering a myriad of hard and soft-bottom habitats
Cristina G. Mittermeier, Gregory S. Stone, Russell A. Mittermeier, Octavio Aburto-Oropeza, Claudio Campagna, Kent E. Carpenter, Laurence P. Madin, David Obura, Enric Sala, Sebastian Troëng, Peter A. Seligman & Stefan Gutermuth
Meaning “open your eyes!” in Portuguese, Abrolhos was named by sailors aboard the first European ships to navigate these waters, who sometimes crashed upon, massive reefs shaped like giant mushrooms 25 m high and 5 m wide. These strange structures, called reefal pinnacles, exist only in this isolated coralline outpost of the South Atlantic.
The Abrolhos Seascape also contains brain corals and large populations of reef and coastal fish, from which nearly 20% are endemic from Brazil.
This zone is an important feeding habitat for the green turtle and the hawksbill, and holds nesting sites for the leatherback turtle and the loggerhead. The area is also of special importance for the Southern Hemisphere populations of the humpback whale.
Marine biodiversity provides a variety of ecosystem services, such as seafood, recreation (including tourism), cultural and aesthetic maintenance, coastal protection, carbon sequestration, and nutrient dispersal and cycling—all of special importance for the communities living along the coast.
This is an excerpt from the CEMEX Conservation Series Book Oceans: Heart of Our Blue Planet (2011)