9 Oct 2006

Marine area around Vanuatu's Santo Island rich in biodiversity

5:57 am on 9 October 2006

Scientists say the marine areas of Vanuatu's Espiritu Santo island are extremely rich in biodiversity, but its coral reefs are badly damaged.

The scientists are part of the Santo 2006 project, which seeks to explore the marine and land areas of the island with the help of about 160 scientists from twenty-five countries.

The leader of the marine division, Philippe Bouchet, says hurricanes, and to a lesser extent, climate change, are likely to have caused the damage to the reefs.

"We should blame a series of hurricanes that have hit Santo in the last fifty years that have probably left an impact that the seascape is still carrying. So that's on one hand the visually negative impression. And this is to be contested with the fact that we are finding many varied species."