We promised you some stunning photos of fish and we’re making good on our promise by giving you a look at what we’ve found among the remote reefs of the Lau Group.
The Auckland Museum blog team has asked me to share a little bit more information about the fish in these photos, why we’re collecting them and what my organisation Conservation International hopes to achieve overall with our 'Lau Seascape Initiative' project.
I’m a coral reef ecologist and work as head of marine programs for Conservation International’s Asia-Pacific Field Division. I was delighted to accept the invitation from Auckland Museum’s Tom Trnski to join this expedition (along with my colleague Semisi Meo from Conservation International Fiji - CI Fiji) because it provided us with an opportunity to survey the most remote reefs within the southern Lau Island group.
We’ve already made some exciting discoveries including what we suspect to be some new species.
Since 2015, CI Fiji has been working with the government and traditional communities of the Lau Archipelago to launch the Lau Seascape Initiative, which is focused on creating a network of marine reserves in this remote region in order to guarantee the long-term food security and economic livelihoods of Lau communities.
In May 2017, we were able to conduct a rapid biodiversity assessment of 28 sites within the Lau group, during which time we recorded 531 species of reef fish, including 38 new distribution records for Fiji (which is now known to host at least 1090 species of reef fish!).
Unfortunately, unseasonable cyclones prevented us from reaching the most remote reefs in the Lau group, which is why we were particularly excited to join the SWP 2017 expedition to have another shot at surveying these reefs.
Our first week in the Lau group has been spent at the southern-most reefs in the Lau archipelago (including Ono-i-Lau and Vatoa), and we’ve now recorded over 40 additional reef fish species we didn’t previously see on our May expedition. We’ve also identified several uninhabited reefs in excellent condition and with healthy fish stocks that we intend to propose to the Lau government as candidates for new marine reserves.
Post by: Auckland Museum
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