October 6, 2016. Water / Oceans
Like jewels in a crown, the more than 10,000 islands found in the Pacific Islands region are set in an ocean area of nearly forty million square kilometers. It comprises the ethnogeographic groupings of Micronesia (“small islands”), Melanesia (“black islands”), and Polynesia (“many islands”)
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
Central Pacific Ocean holds the world’s largest remaining stocks of tuna. The waters of the region also contain globally important stocks of sharks, billfish, and other species like dolphins, whales, dugongs and turtles.
Coral reefs and associated habitats such as lagoons, seagrass and mangroves dominate the coastal marine environs of the Central Pacific. Fringing and barrier reefs are commonly associated with high islands, with New Caledonian Barrier Reef, at more than 1,500 kilometers, being the world’s third largest barrier reef after Australian Great Barrier Reef and the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef off the coast of Mexico and Honduras.
Terrestrial biodiversity of islands in the region is characterized by high species endemism with many species of plants, invertebrates and birds found nowhere else in the world. Including Australia and New Zealand, the Oceania region contains six globally recognized hotspots for terrestrial biodiversity and a major wilderness area in Papua New Guinea.
Throughout the Central Pacific, marine and terrestrial biodiversity, as represented by species number, decreases eastward and toward higher latitudes. However, the proportion of unique species, both marine and terrestrial, increases as you move eastward. Both trends are the consequence of evolution over millions of years of isolation from continental landmasses.
This is an excerpt from the CEMEX Conservation Series Book Oceans: Heart of Our Blue Planet (2011)