Scientists discover 52 new marine species near Indonesia

Eight new species of shrimp, 20 new species of coral, and 24 new species of fish, including two types of sharks, have been discovered off the coast of Indonesia. And these aren’t your grandmother’s marine species: Male wrasse fish get sexy for their harems by flashing bright yellow, blue, and purple; bottom-dwelling epaulette sharks mostly get around by “walking” on their fins; and the shrimp resemble praying mantises. Mark Erdmann of Conservation International calls the 6,950-square-mile Bird’s Head Seascape “the epicenter of marine biodiversity on the planet”; researchers have counted 1,200 species of fish and 600 species of coral there, a greater concentration of species than is found at the Great Barrier Reef. Of course, the ecosystem is in danger, threatened by commercial fishing vessels, local fisherfolk who use dynamite and cyanide, and erosion from mining and logging. Only 11 percent of the area is currently protected, but Indonesia’s Fisheries Ministry is hoping to increase the number of regional marine parks.