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Zhongsha Islands

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Kristen Schnelle

on 18 February 2014

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Transcript of Zhongsha Islands

Zhongsha Islands

Zhongsha = Central Sands Islands
A set of sunken atolls of underwater reefs and shoals in the South China Sea
Length exceeds 130 km (81 mi)
Width 70 km (43 mi)
Depths of 11.6 to 18 m (59 ft)
Water transparency and temperature (28-31℃) of the South China Sea are ideal for coral growth
The reefs are mainly atolls (with no barrier reefs)
The South China Sea belongs to the monsoon zone
The Monsoon Zone is a belt of low-pressure air currents that circle the Earth at the Equator. The Monsoon Zone is also known as the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). The Monsoon Zone is usually warm and experiences mild winds.
Because of the NE and SW winds causing frequent wind direction changes, algae ridges do not form
Oldest corals are 8000-9000 years old
54 genera and 174 hermatypic coral species occur off the coast of mainland China
Hermatypic = reef building
Corals are the most important for reef formation, but other animals in the area live in close relation with the reefs
Threats for the Reef
By: Kristen Schnelle and Matthew Edelstein
Included within the Reef System

Scarborough Shoal
Truro Shoal
Helen Shoal
Stewart Shoal
Huangyan Seamount
Shixing Seamount
Xianbei Seamount
Xiannan Seamount
Zhangzhong Seamount
Zhenbei Seamount
Dreyer Shoal
Zhongnan Seamount
Longnan Seamount
Changlong Seamount

Largest atoll in the South China Sea
Traditional fishing region for Chinese and Philippine fishermen
Shells and sea cucumbers are primarily collected
Approximately 300 ships pass by reef daily
Japan uses this route to transport 80% of its petroleum
Several of the rocks or small islands are just 1/2 m to 3 m high
Reefs are just below water at high tide
Scarborough Shoal
Reef Animals
South China sea waters host at least 12 species of seagrass. These seagrass beds and the reef are home for plenty of organisms
Who Owns It?
Reef Fish
Three countries claim the Zhongsha Island reef as their own: China, Taiwan, Phillippines
There are questions regarding the legality of claims on the area with regards to the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea
Because of the land disputes, scholars often omit important aspects about the reef because they don't see it as belonging to their country
SCS is responsible for half the world’s commercial shipping traffic and home to vast undersea oil reserves
Mandarin Fish
Pygmy Seahorse
Red Saddleback Clownfish
Sea Turtles
The south china sea reefs are home to every kind of sea turtle but the Kemp's Ridley turtle
Leatherback Turtle
Recreational Fishing
Hook & line type
Popular pastime
Spearfishing practiced by enthusiasts, often collect fish larger than those taken by commercial fishermen
Commercial Fishing
Conducted using hand-line, small cages made of chicken wire, and monofilament nets
Long-lining is less frequent
Prone to incidental catching and can result in the killing of non-targeted ocean-life
Reefs targeted for fish and mollusks
Overfishing & destructive fishing practices are badly damaging the coral communities
Green Turtle
Hawksbill Turtle
Human Impact
The reefs have been attracting millions of tourists each year and the numbers still increase
In the 1990's the coral conditions saw a steep decline in conditions due to the fast socio-economic growth
Sewage outflows have been adversely affecting the reefs closest to the mainland along with increased sedimentation
Stony coral for limestone is being used for raw building materials, threatening the sustainability of the resources
Destructive Fishing
Cyanide-fishing is carried out by large-scale commercial operators and are used to collect aquarium fishes
Processes involves stunning all life where the chemical comes in contact, including corals
Overfishing is the most pervasive threat for over 3/4's of China's reefs
Blast fishing is also a growing issue
On regularly bombed reefs, coral mortality may be 50-80%
Uses explosives to stun and kill fish
Illegal fishing and sale of living corals for aquarium trade is a growing problem
The Reef is home to a wide variety of Species
Amount of species of each type:
Hard corals 127
Soft corals >9
Fish >500
Mollusks >500
Echinoderms >127
Crustaceans >350
Polychaete >93
Seagrass >12
Algae >182
We are going to go over:
Oldest reefs on planet
Round, doughnut shape
Develop on top of sea mounts
Enclose a lagoon
Land is reef flat above sea level
Scarborough Shoal

China named the reef as a "city" to further lay claim on the Zhongsha reef territory, naming the partially submerged city: "Sansha"
Lack of Conservation Efforts:
Due the claim disputes, many countries don't feel it is their responsibility

The Chinese are notorious for lack of environmental efforts
Sea turtles are collected for food and medicinal uses
Corals of the Reef
Fisherman off the
Local fisherman off the Scarborough Shoal
Acropora Millepora
"Cats paw Coral"
Acroporidae corals account for a third of the reef building corals
Porites Lutea
"Hump Coral"
These corals can create "micro atolls" where only lateral growth occurs due to exposure to air
Galaxea fascicularis
"The Galaxy Coral"
The Mandarin fish is popularly over-fished for the saltwater aquarium trade
The Pygmy Seahorse is endemic to the Southeast Asia and the Coral Triangle
The tentacles are often a contrasting colour from the skeleton and are usually tipped with white.
The Red Saddleback Anenome Fish is endemic to the Indo-Pacific waters
Some havesweeper tentacles which can be extended to 30 centimetres (12 in) in length and serve to deter other organisms from settling close by
The Dugongs are heavily dependent on sea grass, thus the South China Sea is prime habitat with over 12 types of sea grass
Video of the Reef
Full transcript