20 Mar Discover the Coral Triangle’s Biodiversity in Coral City
Welcome to Coral City – CTC’s latest interactive exhibition at its Center for Marine Conservation in Sanur, Bali. The exhibit showcases the biodiversity of the Coral Triangle and the important role that each marine animal plays in maintaining a healthy coral reef ecosystem.
Coral City is an interactive exhibit that showcases how all its inhabitants play an important role in maintaining the balance of a healthy environment. They can be thought of as an underwater metropolitan that has people that offer different jobs and services in order to fully function.
One of the featured citizens in Coral City is the architect – the Scleractinian Coral. They build habitat for other species as they grow. They come in multiple shapes and sizes. Some form branching colonies like trees, bouldering colonies, or foliose vase shapes. Their growth can be determined by their species or the environmental conditions they are facing; this makes them highly adaptable to environmental change and has allowed them to persist as the dominant species in tropical seas for 25 million years.
We also feature the gardener – the Parrotfish. Parrotfish are one of many important species of herbivores on the reef. Herbivorous species in marine ecosystems are commonly referred to as the gardeners of the reef because they remove excess algae from the substrate. If algae take up too much space on a reef, there is no room for corals and other benthic organisms to settle. This can lead to reduction in diversity and a loss of ecosystem services that coral reef ecosystems provide to living organisms that live on coral reefs. Therefore large herbivorous fish populations are an indicator of coral reef health, with high herbivory leading to increased resilience from external threats.
We also have a celebrity – the Sunfish. The sunfish, aka Mola, is one of the most charismatic species found in the Ocean. In conservation they are used as what is known as an “umbrella species”, because protecting them usually means protecting other species that inhabit the same geographical location. They are also one of the most photographed and sought-after fish by divers who want to meet them in their natural habitat.
If someone within Coral City requires dental services, there is a Cleaner Wrasse available to attend to their needs. Cleaner wrasse as well as other organisms such as cleaner shrimp have an important ecological function of ridding marine organisms of parasites and bacteria. They will take up space on a reef and create what is known as a “cleaning station”where all sorts of marine animals such as parrot fish, groupers, and even manta rays will come to get their skin, gills, and mouths cleaned.
The exhibition aims to educate visitors about the connection of marine species and the importance of maintaining a healthy ecosystem. By highlighting the roles that each species play, Coral City encourages visitors to appreciate the diversity of marine life and to understand the impacts that human activities can have on the marine environment.
We hope that Coral City will inspire visitors to take action to protect the Coral Triangle and other coral ecosystems around the world. Through education and awareness-raising, they hope to create a future where the Coral Triangle and its unique biodiversity can thrive. With increased understanding and appreciation for the natural world, we can all play a role in preserving our planet for future generations.
Writer: Adam Putra
Photos: Leilani Gallardo/CTC & Shutterstock