damage to Southeast Sulawesi.

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The expedition team observed a high level of sedimentation in water near mining areas. Horizontal visibility was less than 10 meters, Estradivari said. Sediment in water blocks out light these ecosystems need to survive, and can bury coral as it settles out.  “What really concerns us is the location of the nickel mining area. It is very close to the border of the Lasolo Bay Marine Park (TWAL) so the environmental impact of the mining can directly influence the health of coastal ecosystem,” she said.One of the key finding of the expedition was nine of the 38 sampling sites (around 24 percent) had a low level of hard coral coverage. In these sites, hard coral — the building blocks of reefs — covered less 25 percent of each site. This number indicates that the coral reef ecosystem is not healthy.
The other striking finding is the proliferation of Acanthaster planci, a spiked starfish popularly known as crown-of-thorns. This coral-eating species is naturally present in reef ecosystems — but normally in low numbers.The researchers found crown-of-thorns widely scattered in many sampling sites, off the Sulawesi mainland as well as in the coastal waters of small islands to the east. In some sampling sites, more than five crown-of-thorns starfish were found in a single site; in the most extreme case, a diver found 30.
However, Estradivari also said there are reasons for optimism: some sites are still in good condition, and others could still recover. Some locations around Wawonii Island do still have high levels of hard coral cover as well as a significant number of small hard corals. The location also hosts the schooling of unicorn fish, yellow-tailed barracuda, and other protected species such as hawksbill sea turtles, leatherback sea turtles, green sea turtles, whales, whale sharks, dolphins, dugongs, and manta ray.
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