New species of starfish discovered at Louisa Reef
A NEW species of sea stars was discovered during a diving expedition to Louisa Reef, Spratly Islands.
Associate Professor Dr David Lane of Universiti Brunei Darussalam’s Department of Biology said the new species was found during Poni Divers’ six-day expedition last week.
“During those dives, I found a new species of sea stars which I recognised from Indonesia and has not yet been found here in Brunei,” said the specialist in tropical marine ecology.
“This is the first time such species was found in the South China Sea and Brunei has this new species of starfish,” he told The Brunei Times after returning from the expedition, which was the first in over a decade.
The associate professor said the new species has not been named yet, as they have yet to finalise the descriptions of the starfish’s characteristics.
“To find it in the Louisa Reef is quite remarkable in itself; the discovery had made the trip worthwhile for me,” said Associate Professor Lane.
Sharing his other findings, the associate professor said the reef is rich in corals after he found a rare species of sea cucumber.
“Although the site is rich in corals, it has been damaged but some of them might be caused by storms as it is a very exposed situation in the South China Sea.
“There seems to be a good re-growth there and in a few years, it will re-grow, otherwise the reef is very rich in corals,” he added.
Brunei, said the Associate Professor, is located at the edge of the Coral Triangle – the richest area of marine life in the world.
“The Coral Triangle is made out of the Philippines, most of Indonesia and Eastern Malaysia, and New Guinea as well,” he said.
“And there are more than 500 species in this Coral Triangle, and Brunei currently has around 400 but with this, it is getting closer to its richness in diversity and can be quite a good place to do a research for marine biodiversity,” he added.
Associate Prof Lane shared that he does not have any specific plans for Louisa Reef yet, but he wanted to explore more on the marine environment in Brunei.
“Perhaps, if another expedition can be brought together to other areas as well, that would be great,” he added.
The Brunei Times