Earthtopomaps – Mangroves and Coral Reefs, Viti Levu, Fiji
Deep green forest on land. And the delicate turquoise coral reef in the ocean mirror each other in this true-color image from December 18, 2009. Both systems provide a significant habitat for a wide range of life. And both depend on the other for their healthy existence.
The forest, a mangove forest. Defines the delta of the Ba River on the north side of Viti Levu, Fiji’s main island.
Such mangrove forests serve as the interface between river and sea across:. Fiji and in many other places in the world. The trees grow with roots submerged in the semi-salty water near the shore. But they grow best in sheltered areas, where the ocean’s battering waves are minimal. In this case, the coral reef offshore provides a break, slowing incoming waves.
The mangrove forest, in turn, protects the reef from sediment and extensive algal blooms.
The tangle of roots catches sediment and nitrogen from the river, acting as a natural filter. Sediment would cloud the water, blocking the sunlight that the coral needs to grow. Nitrogen from agricultural run-off feeds algae in the ocean. Extensive ocean blooms can coat the reef or rob the water of oxygen. Both of which would be harmful to the reef. Nitrogen run-off could be a problem along the Ba River. Since the river flows through heavily farmed hills and valleys where most of Fiji’s sugar cane is produced.
) Earthtopomaps – Mangroves and Coral Reefs, Viti Levu, Fiji
The Advanced Land Imager on NASA’s Earth-Observer 1 satellite captured this image.
Cakaulevu Reef, Fiji
Surrounded by the warm waters of the South Pacific:. The Fiji Islands are often cloaked in clouds when the Aqua or Terra satellites fly over. But July 21, 2011, offered up a perfectly cloud-free view. This image from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS):. On Aqua shows Fiji’s second-largest island, Vanua Levu, and the Cakaulevu Reef that shelters the island’s northern shore.
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C) Earthtopomaps – Mangroves and Coral Reefs, Viti Levu, Fiji
Also called the Great Sea Reef, Cakaulevu shines turquoise through clear, shallow waters. It is the third longest continuous barrier reef in the world:. Behind the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Mesoamerica Reef off Central America. When combined with the nearby Pascoe Reef, Cakaulevu Reef is about 200 kilometers (120 miles) long. On its own, the Cakaulevu Reef covers 202,700 square kilometers (77,200 square miles).
D) Earthtopomaps – Mangroves and Coral Reefs, Viti Levu, Fiji.
The first systematic survey of the reef (in 2004) revealed a diverse marine population:. Including unique mangrove ecosystems and endemic fish. Twelve threatened species live within the reef: 10 fish species, the green turtle, and the spinner dolphin.
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All of this marine life has traditionally supported the native population, and currently some 70,000 people depend on the reef.
After seeing fish populations decline in recent decades:. Local leaders created a series of marine protected areas in 2005 where fishing is prohibited. Traditional customs used to manage the reef for hundreds of years permit leaders to set aside portions of the qoliqoli:. Or traditional fishing ground. Where the ban has been enforced, fish populations are rebounding and spilling over into areas where fishing is permitted.
From space, none of this bounty is visible. Instead, the beauty comes from the vivid shades of blue and green coral creates when viewed through water.
Mangroves and Coral Reefs:
Revised September 15, 2023