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The Coral Triangle:Nature’s Greatest Secret-A Movable Feast

by APEX Environmental/Benjamin Kahn

This feature film is part 2 of a 3 part series, “The Coral Triangle: Natures Greatest Secret”, which originally aired as a landmark series on the Discovery Channel (Asia)

Nature’s Greatest Secret – The Coral Triangle

A true sense of adventure, the grandeur of blue-chip cinematography, and the expertise of some of the world’s leading chroniclers of the marine environment join forces in this three-part landmark documentary series.
Located deep in the volcanic central Indo-Pacific Ocean, the Coral Triangle is a region of unrivalled richness, beauty, and biological importance. Transported back to the romantic age of sailing in a traditional Indonesian schooner equipped with the latest diving equipment and state-of-the-art camera technology, we travel to the hidden and forgotten worlds above and below the waves, and discover the greatest concentration of marine life found anywhere in the world.

The exploration and management of the Coral Triangle may well hold the key to the survival of marine species from all over the world that depend on its existence.

The Coral Triangle is the major junction of three great oceans; a veritable highway for great ocean travellers, such as the leatherback turtle, whale sharks, and blue whales. Through the tracking and study of migrating marine mammals by Dr Benjamin Kahn, we follow the movements of these great whales to understand what draws them to this region, and why it is a critical path in their journey. While Dr Mark Meekan tracks his whale sharks from Australiaʼs Ningaloo Reef to the heart of the Coral Triangle, in a quest to find their undiscovered breeding grounds.

1. A Deep Secret
2. A Moveable Feast
3. Paradise Under Pressure

Journey into the central Indo-Pacific, to the epicentre of the world’s marine biodiversity as we reveal why the Coral Triangle holds a vital key to the future of the oceans and of human sustainability. In the tropical seas of Southeast Asia is a triangular shaped area of such rich and vibrant marine life that scientists have named it an epicentre of global marine biodiversity. Encompassing thousands of tropical islands fringed with abundant coral reefs and crossed by surging ocean currents, the Coral Triangle is the “Eden of the Oceans”, the “Nursery of the Seas”.

120 million people depend on the bounty of the Coral Triangle for their survival. The people of the region are as diverse in culture, religion and language as the fauna of the oceans they are so intimately connected to. Pressures such as abject poverty and rapid economic growth are putting a heavy burden on the Coral Triangle biome. This is a place where ancient beliefs and indigenous ways of life are being tested by depleting fish stocks, floating plastic debris and the unknown future of climate change.

For Schools and Universities: Natures Greatest Secret: The Coral Triangle is an amazing resource for the cross curricula themes of Sustainability and Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia. The films are appropriate for geography, social studies, environment and conservation studies, Earth and Biological Science, Asian Studies and Marine Studies. The study guide draws explicit links with The Australian Curriculum for Year 6 Science and Geography and Year 9 Science and Geography as these years have a particularly strong Asia focus. There are also activities for Senior Biology Unit 3, heredity and continuity of life.

Benjamin Kahn
Coral Triangle Oceanic Cetacean Program
IUCN Species Survival Commission  –  Cetacean Specialist Group
IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas
Adjunct Research Fellow, Curtin University, Centre of Marine Science and Technology, Perth, Western Australia
APEX Environmental is an organisation with extensive expertise in oceanic whale and dolphin surveys, cetacean ecology research, conservation, management, policy development and training.  Our main area of interest is within The Coral Triangle (CT) where we have been working since 1998.  The CT includes the coasts, reefs and open seas of six countries: Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia (Sabah), Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Timor Leste.  These waters are regarded by experts as the world’s richest marine environment and account for 30 percent of the world’s reefs, 76 percent of global reef building coral species and more than 35 percent of coral reef fish.  Marine megafauna in the CT includes 6 species of marine turtles, the dugong and over 30 species of dolphins and whales – including Bryde’s, sperm and blue whales

The Coral Triangle Oceanic Cetacean Program aims to expand the existing knowledge of the Earth’s most abundant yet least known marine ecosystem – the open ocean – with particular emphasis on  “deep-sea yet near-shore” habitats such as seamounts, pinnacles and persistent upwelling zones. One of our priority areas are the Indo-Pacific migratory corridors of east Indonesia, Timor Leste, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands; and the importance of these narrow yet deep passages for large migratory marine life, in particular blue and sperm whales; in addition we focus on how to integrate productive oceanic and deep-sea habitats within MPA Networks and Seascape initiatives.

In addition to our work on marine mammals, we have also assisted with numerous regional marine conservation programs such as eco-regional Marine Spatial Planning, Integrated Ocean Management, Marine Protected Area (MPA) Network development, design, MPA management plans and zonations, national fisheries reviews, capacity building assessments, best practice reviews for offshore industries (in particular the energy sector: seismic surveys, oil and gas exploration), shipping and marine tourism development. These activities are geared towards providing innovative solutions for nature-based industries that have minimal environmental impact, are cost-effective and provide long-term ecological and economical sustainability.  Educational and training activities focus on tropical marine mammal conservation issues in SE Asia and the South Pacific Islands.  We have also provided support for several land-mark film series and nature documentaries

APEX Environmental is a member of several expert groups at the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) and large-scale initiatives including:

IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA): Trans-Boundary Conservation Specialist Group.
IUCN Species Survival Committee (SSC): Cetacean Specialist Group
Coral Triangle Initiative Seascapes Technical Working Group
South Pacific Whale Research Consortium (SPWRC)