The Solomon Islands has one of the highest diversities of coral and fish species anywhere in the world with several species that are new to science. These discoveries were made during a five-week scientific expedition to survey the marine life of the Solomon Islands, led by The Nature Conservancy and involving local and international non-government organizations and Australian scientific organizations.
The survey found that the Solomon Islands is part of the Coral Triangle — the region of the world’s richest marine life — which was previously thought to extend no further than the waters of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. The team found one of the highest diversities of coral species on the planet, recording 494 species of corals in the Solomon Islands with several species that are possibly new to science and more than 100 corals thousands of kilometres beyond their known range.
In addition to the country's remarkable abundance of corals, the survey confirmed that the Solomon Islands has one of the richest concentrations of reef fishes in the world. With at least 1,019 fish species, the Solomon Islands ranks with Indonesia, the Philippines, Australia and Papua New Guinea as one of the ‘big five’ for reef fish species.
Results of the survey will provide important information to help the people of the Solomon Islands better manage their marine resources, which are critically important for their livelihoods.
The Conservancy collaborated with a range of community, government, and non-government partners to conduct the broad scale Rapid Ecological Assessment (REA) of the biodiversity and status of the marine ecosystems of the Solomon Islands.
Led by Dr. Alison Green, a Marine Scientist with the Conservancy's Asia Pacific Program, the survey team included participants from:
- Provincial and national government agencies of the Solomon Islands– the Ministry of Natural Resources (Department of Fisheries and Marine Resources and the Department of Forests Environment and Conservation); The Ministry of Reform and Planning; the Ministry for Natural Resources in Isabel Province and the Department of Fisheries in Choiseul Province;
- Non-government conservation organizations – WWF, Conservation International (CI), Wildlife Conservation Society; and,
- Australian scientific institutions – Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), CRC Reef Research Centre, Queensland Department of Primary Industries & Fisheries and APEX Environmental Pty Ltd.
The Solomon Islands marine assessment was supported by private donors, including the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Homeland Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the MV FeBrina of Walindi Plantation Dive Cruises and The Nature Conservancy.