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1 . Papua New Guinea     Papua New Guinea
New Guinea is the largest equatorial island and lies adjacent to the northern tip of the Great Barrier Reef. Coral reefs in Papua New Guinea have never been properly surveyed. Despite previous inaccurate reports, it appears that over one-half of the coastline and surrounding islands are fronted by coral reefs. Papua New Guinea coral reefs are among the most diverse in the world and have a high percentage coral cover. Although all reef types are represented, most are fringing and barrier reefs. The low latitude of these reefs places them mostly outside the cyclone belt and, as a result, the reef crest and upper reef slope are rarely impacted by extreme high seas. Unlike the Great Barrier Reef, which has seasonal cyclones, there is a conspicuous absence of coral rubble and large boulder tracts.

Accurate estimates of the coral reefs of PNG are necessary for local resource assessment and management. On the basis of Whitehouse’s paper Munro (1975) made some generalized estimates of the likely extent of coral reef fish resources in PNG waters that are doubtlessly incorrect. Proper estimates of coral resources must be based on the extent of the habitat itself. As PNG is endowed with extensive reefs, much greater potential productivity might be possible. Satellite based remote sensing technology can be used to map and monitor shallow water habitats (Quinn et al.1985, 1986).

Recent studies in Bootless Bay, Kimbe Bay, Madang, Hansa Bay and southern New Ireland have increased the level of knowledge of the richness of the reefs in PNG, but much more work is needed. The paucity of knowledge includes few taxonomic lists of coral species, even though PNG lies near the center of biodiversity of the Indo _ Pacific hermatypic scleractinian corals (Hoeksema 1992).

Papua and Milne Bay Reefs
Reef surveys of the Papuan coast center around Port Moresby and Bootless Bay (Table 1; Weber 1973; Ayling 1982; Maniwavie et al. 1998; Quinn 2000). Weber (1973) recorded 65 scleractinians, including the free-living hermatype Heteropsammia, from reefs around Port Moresby and Bootless Bay. Weber noted that there was a high diversity of coral species and that the reefs were remarkable for the enormous, spectacular growth forms of some species. Lobophyllia, for example, was observed to form heads up to 3m across. Turbinaria, Acropora, and Dendrophyllia also attained immense proportions, especially along the sides of deep channels where strong water currents flowed (Weber 1973). Recently, the Museum of Tropical Queensland identified 47 species of Acropora in “Bootless Bay” and 21 species at “Motupore” (Barbara Done pers. com.). No published details of the collection areas or relative abundance are available.

In many areas within the Papuan lagoon, on the steeper reef slopes below 1 _ 2m, the coral cover was almost 100% (Weber 1973; Quinn 2000). Weber (1973) also found that the extreme southern tip of the fringing reef surrounding Motupore Island was “luxuriant” and had a high diversity of coral species. Other sites like Horseshoe Reef, Suzie’s Bommie, Dice, Ghetto, End Bommie and many unnamed reefs also had a high diversity of coral and high percentage coral cover (Quinn 2000). Rhinopias aphanes (Lacey scorpion fish) was first recorded in PNG on these reefs and is now commonly sighted on them. These reefs are used by local dive operators and have a mooring to protect the corals from frequent anchoring. There was no evidence of destructive fishing practices, human impact, or Acanthaster planci (COTS) infestations (Table 2).

The reefs around Lion Island, a 250m high continental island in Bootless Bay, provide excellent, protected diving during rough seas for tourists from a nearby resort. Seagrass meadows are adjacent to the northern section of the reef (Brouns 1986) and are home to such uncommon fish as Flying Gurnards, Harlequin ghost pipefish, and Pegasus fish as well as a diverse range of more common reef fish. Millepora is abundant to 10m depth. Of all the sites in Bootless Bay, Lion Island is the most impacted by humans, as evidenced by the number of dead corals and litter (Quinn 2000). At neighboring Motupore Island a diverse sponge community was documented by Kelly-Borges and Bergquist (1988).

A Hugrun underwater temperature recorder on the eastern side of Lion Island reef recorded water temperatures hourly from 26 August 1998 to 13 February 2000. A low temperature of 25.55oC on 18 September 1999 and a high of 30.85oC on 8 February 2000 were based on 11246 readings (Fig. 1).

A survey of the reefs of Joyce and Walter Bay, near Port Moresby for a planned sewerage disposal pipeline observed a percentage live coral cover ranging from 13% - 43% (Table 1; Maniwavie et al. 1998). The nature of the reefs varies significantly at several spatial scales, so it is difficult to generalize and give a mean value to any data collected (Maniwavie et al. 1998). The common coral families were Acroporidae, Alcyoniidae, Dendrophylliidae, Faviidae, Milliporidae, Poritidae, Fungiidae and Pocilloporidae. The morphological forms include branching, tabulate, massive, sub massive and encrusting. The corals on the fringing reefs are distributed in a patchy manner. Branching Acropora were the most common representing 16% to 20% of the live coral cover. The number of coral families and coral % cover increased towards the west away from the city centre. There was some evidence of COTS, human interference, and destructive fishing practices (Table 2; Maniwavie et al. 1998). In 1994, Motupore Island Research Department initiated a long-term coral reef monitoring programme, specifically devoted to the condition of coral reefs. Their results are included in several of the studies cited.

Milne Bay to Cape Ward Hunt
Milne Bay is the largest maritime province and is the province that contains the most coral reefs. There are a few mining and oil palm projects in the area, but most of the people are subsistence farmers and fishers. Repeated use of explosives in some areas has resulted in reefs that contain few living corals and are almost devoid of topographic structure (Halstead et al. 1998; Table 2), although these effects appear to be localized (Werner and Allen 1998).

Cahill et al. (1973) surveyed the reefs of a number of island groups of the Louisiade and Trobriand Archipelagos and identified 37 genera and recorded percent live coral cover (12-83%) on 16 reefs (Table 1). In 1997, in a survey of 53 sites Veron (1998) documented 362 coral species, with 14 new species and predicted that the total number of coral species could approach 420. They considered the reefs to be in pristine condition with little to no evidence of destructive fishing practices and no evidence of recent COTS infestation (Table 2).

While Acanthaster planci outbreaks occurred on reefs in countries neighbouring PNG such as Palau and the Great Barrier Reef, PNG has been fortunate in not having any large outbreaks (Quinn and Kojis 1987). Only in Milne Bay in the late 1970s were starfish reported in significant numbers in isolated areas.

An ecological assessment of Collingwood Bay, Milne Bay Province noted that the bay is separated from the open sea by a barrier reef with both sunken and exposed portions (Opu and Aruga 1999). The diverse coastal habitat of this bay includes seagrass meadows, mangroves, sandy beaches and coral reefs. A series of shoals occur from 100m to 20 km off shore. The reefs of Tufi and McLaren Harbor and Cyclone Reef, an offshore reef, were surveyed as part of the Reef Check PNG survey in 1998 and 1999. The reefs had high coral diversity (Table 1) and cover with no signs of destructive fishing, anchor damage, or COTS infestation (Table 2; Quinn 2000). The reefs within the harbors are sheltered from large oceanic swells, consequently, leafy forms of Turbinaria dominate below 5m.

Cape Ward Hunt to Finschhafen
Many of the islands found in the Fly and Longuerue Island groups are surrounded by fringing reefs similar in structure to the fringing reefs of the main island. Most of the islands in the Longuerue Island group are high islands while several islands of the Fly group are low coral cays. Coral cover is commonly over 60% in the top 10m and 10% coral cover commonly occurs at depths over 30m (Table 1; Kojis et al. 1985). Occasionally pleasure boats from Lae visit the area, but otherwise coastal villagers in their canoes only occasionally visit the reefs. No destructive fishing practices are evident and COTS have not affected the reefs (Table 2). Jenkins and Led (pers. com.) surveyed the reefs off Kamiali Wildlife Management Area and recorded 47% live coral cover (Table 1).

South of Lae, the first coral reef occurs 25 km down the coast at Busama. For the next 200 km south reefs fringe about 110 km of the shoreline (approximately 50% of the coast). Additionally, there are 23 offshore islands with 50 km of coastline of which over 95% is surrounded by reef. Because of the steeply sloping nature of the coastal shelf that flanks the western continuation of the New Britain trench, very few large offshore shoal reefs have developed in this region.

The reefs of Busama and Salamaua, within the Lae port, were surveyed in association with the proposed expansion of the Lae wharf, and 95 species of Scleractinia from 48 genera and 13 families were identified (Table 1; Quinn and Kojis 1983). Additional species are likely to be found with further collecting. No destructive fishing practices or evidence of COTS was observed. Because of the proximity of Salamaua reefs to Lae and its use by recreational boats, occasional anchor damage was observed (Table 2). Differences in the fecundity of Acropora palifera at Busama and Salamaua were examined in relation to differences in the sedimentation rate at these two sites. Increased sedimentation with its concomitant light attenuation was found to limit the depth at which A. palifera grew and reduce its fecundity (Quinn and Kojis 1983; Kojis and Quinn 1984, 1985; Kojis 1986)

The Markham River is the major river flowing into the Huon Gulf and prevents the growth of reefs closer to Lae. Contrary to Whitehouse’s (1973) statement, it is not “a clear stream, rippling over gravel …” (p. 177), but rather a large, braided, shallow river which carries much sediment into the Huon Gulf (Quinn and Kojis 1982, 1984). In March 1985, the Markham River was carrying a sediment load of 0.8 g l-1 with an estimated total annual transport of 10 million tonnes of sediment into the Huon Gulf. Hydrological details about this area may be found in Kojis and Quinn (1984) and Quinn and Kojis (1982, 1984).

Like other smaller rivers, the Markham River limits reef growth along the eastern coast as far as Cape Arkona, 45 km from its mouth to sporadic fringing reefs, the closest of which is at Singaua, 18 km from the Markham River. From Cape Arkona to Finschhafen fringing reefs commonly line the coast except near river mouths. Tami Atoll is 10km off the southeast point of the Huon Peninsula. It is 3km in diameter and has three islands, all upraised limestone about 10m in elevation. The lagoon is about 18m deep with a sandy bottom and coral growth is restricted to the top 10m. Strong oceanic currents sweep by the atoll and the outer coral assemblages vary with exposure. The reef is oval in an east west orientation with passages to the north and south. Coral communities are both diverse and extensive (Kojis et al. 1985). No destructive fishing practices or COTS outbreaks were reported (Table 2).

In the Huon Gulf, 55 genera and 14 families of corals were identified (Kojis et al. 1985) and more genera will probably be found as collecting continues. The non-scleractinian corals with carbonate skeletons, Distichopora, Heliopora, Tubipora and Stylaster, were also recorded in the Huon Gulf. Heliopora was indicated by beach fragments found on Dot Island, south of Salamaua, while M illepora was abundant.

Finschhafen to Cape Croisilles
Fringing reefs are the dominant type along the coast from Finschhafen to Madang. The seaward reef margin is well defined and consists of a steep fore-reef slope, dropping abruptly into deep water; over 200m depths are commonly found within 500m of the reef crest. The reefs, themselves are generally narrow, less than 100m, from coast to shore, and devoid of a well-defined lagoon. Occasional lagoons exist such as at Sialum, and Dregerhaven. The reef tops tend to be shallow and flat and have large areas exposed during low spring tides. Because of their easy access, women and children commonly gather marine products from these reefs during spring low tides. Importantly most reef areas on the north coast around Sialum are little affected by rivers. Reefs along this coast are interspersed with limestone cobble deltas (Veron and Kelley 1988), which may be related to the predominantly calcareous nature of the sediment that is derived from the limestone hinterland. The coral communities in this region are abundant and diverse.

Kojis et al. (1985) collected and identified 53 genera and 14 families of Scleractinia from Madang Harbour (Table 1). Of the non- Scleractinian corals, M illepora was common while Tubipora and H eliopora were rare. The coral cover ranged from 0-100% (Jebb and Lowry 1995; Table 1). Hoeksema (1992) reported 73 genera from the Madang region. The taxonomy of Fungia corals were reviewed by Claereboudt and Hoeksema (1987) and Hoeksema (1993). Additionally, live populations of the calcified sponge Acanthochaetetes wellsi were found under over hangs on the fringing reef that runs along the North Coast of Madang. Individuals with a diameter of 13 cm were observed (Quinn 2000).

Cape Croisilles to Vanimo
Sixty-nine Scleractinian genera and 16 families have been identified from Hansa Bay, Madang Province (Table 1), along with Millepora, Tubipora and Heliopora (Kojis et al. 1985; Claereboudt 1988; Claereboudt and Hoeksema 1987; Hoeksema 1993). The larger number of genera and families in Hansa Bay compared to the Huon Gulf and Madang is probably the result of a greater collecting intensity. Hansa Bay is within 25km of the mouth of the Ramu River and 50km of the mouth of the Sepik River (two of the largest rivers in Papua New Guinea) and is the site of the last major reefs east of these rivers. Claereboudt (1989) is likely to have recorded more coral species, but we were unable to obtain a copy of his Ph.D. thesis from the University of Brussels, and no copies were in any PNG libraries.

Soft and hard coral cover on the reef flat of Laing Island, Hansa Bay was 18% and 17% respectively (Tursch and Tursch 1982), including 31 species with Litophyton viridis amounting to 56% of the soft coral cover (Tursch and Tursch 1982).

Hansa Bay experiences mean vertical transparency ranging from 9m during the wet season (November _ May) to 19m during the dry season (June _ October) with a minimum of 2m and maximum of 35m horizontal visibility. Coral cover was >60% on exposed reefs and from 30% to 60% on partially exposed and sheltered reefs. Coral cover diminished to about 5% between 20-30m (Kojis et al. 1985). Other sites termed Simbine, Sinub, Wongad by Jenkins (pers. com.) around Madang and Ali (3km off Aitape) had 48%, 22%, 23% and 22% coral cover, respectively.

New Guinea Islands
The Kimbe Bay survey recorded 347 hard coral species belonging to 78 genera and 9 subgenera (Table 1; Maragos 1994). This was among the highest recorded in the literature for an area and was similar to that recorded for Madang (Hoeksema 1992). The list included two genera of black corals (O. Antipatharia, F. Antipathidae), Antipathes and Cirrhipathes, the latter is also commonly known as whip coral. They also listed eleven species of Tubipora, Heliopora, Millepora, Distichopora, and Stylaster. Reefs in Kimbe Bay had a high percentage coral cover (Jones pers. com.), had no signs of destructive fishing, or anchor damage (Table 2; Quinn 2000) as dive operators had installed a mooring system. Kimbe Bay was the only place where Reef Check observed an adult Acanthaster planci (Quinn 2000).

The coral in Rabaul Harbour were completely buried by ash in September 1994 (Maniwavie et al. in press), and recovery of the coral is being followed.

The Lak Marine Survey was conducted around the southern tip of New Ireland and recorded a coral cover ranging from 20-79% (Table 1; Hair 1996). The reefs were in a good condition without any signs of human interference or COTS damage (Table 2).

A Reef Check survey at sites around Kavieng recorded very high percent coral cover (40-70%; Table 1) with no human interference, anchor damage, or COTS damage (Table 2; Quinn 2000). While there were reports of dynamite fishing, no evidence of this was observed. Because Reef Check surveys were dependent on commercial dive operations, the sites surveyed were more likely to be ones least damaged and most attractive.

Reef Check and Empowering Efforts
The need for governments to carry out long-term monitoring of coral reefs has been slow to be realized, even in developed countries. Reef Check is a well-planned, well-developed, multilevel monitoring program that is useful at local, regional and global scales. Reef Check has several roles. First, it is relatively rapid, allowing a team to gather a snapshot of the health of reef corals, other invertebrates and fish at up to two sites per day. If Reef Check surveys are repeated regularly, they can act as an early warning system for major anthropogenic changes such as bleaching, blast or poison fishing, over fishing, eutrophication and sedimentation.

The second role of Reef Check is to build community support for a coral reef monitoring and management program in each area. By participating in Reef Check training, fund raising, and surveys, participants develop a sense of stewardship towards the reefs. They then share their knowledge and experience by giving illustrated talks in schools as well as speaking informally with interested spectators. This type of interaction generates public support for coral reef science, conservation, and management. The educational component of Reef Check PNG is an extension of the Sea Teach program, which constructed underwater classrooms at Salamaua (Aynsley and Quinn 1983, 1984). Sea Teach introduced field-based teaching of coral reef biology to PNG students in the early 1980s. Many of these students have gone on to positions involved in environmental monitoring or awareness programs.

The Reef Check PNG country program began in 1998 (Quinn 2000). In 1998, the first group of UPNG university students received scuba diving training. The following year additional students were certified as divers and the most capable divers were trained as Reef Checkers. Surveys have been conducted in Bootless Bay, Kimbe Bay, Tufi, and Madang Harbour with the support of Reef Check International, the PNG Divers Association, Walindi Plantation Resort, Loloata Island Resort, The Dive Centre, Tufi Dive Resort, and the Madang Resort Hotel.


Additional funds are needed to train more student divers, purchase dive equipment, meet accommodation expenses, airfares, pay for photo documentation, and help with computer expenses. With increased funding to Reef Check PNG more national citizens will be able to obtain scuba diving certification, learn coral reef monitoring skills, and participate in surveys.

Obtaining knowledge about work conducted on PNG reefs is difficult. Many references are not in local libraries. Owing to a depreciation of the kina and a shift in government spending, PNG libraries have few funds for acquisitions and books and journals published overseas are particularly expensive. While scientific studies try to advance knowledge, few take the effort to lodge their reports with local libraries. We urge living authors cited in this paper to lodge two copies of their work with the University of Papua New Guinea and the PNG National Museum, if they have not already done so.
Source: Quinn N.J. and B.L. Kojis , 2000 , Abundance and Diversity of Coral Populations . Chapter 1. In: Munday, P.L. (2000). The Status of Coral Reefs in Papua New Guinea. Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN) Report. (See Document)

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