18 Sep 2006

Scientists discover unparalleled marine diversity off Indonesia's Papua

3:14 pm on 18 September 2006

Scientists are hailing the discovery of dozens of exotic new fish and corals off Indonesia's Papua province as a "species factory" and possibly the richest marine environment in the world.

The scientists say the barely-explored Bird's Head Seascape, is unparalleled in terms of the number and variety of species that have been found there.

Further expeditions are expected to discover dozens more fish and corals.

A total of more than 1,200 species of fish and almost 600 species of coral were recorded, three quarters of the world's total.

Dr Mark Erdmann, who led the two expeditions, says these reefs are species factories.

He says the region is simply mind-blowing in terms of its diversity.

Dr Erdmann says for the surveys to uncover over 50 new species of coral, fish, and mantis shrimp in less than six weeks is unheard of in this day and age.