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Reef scenic, Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea. © Zafer Kizilkaya

Reef scenic, Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea. © Zafer Kizilkaya

Marine

We are living on a blue planet. Around 71% of the Earth’s surface is covered in water, 97% of which is found in the ocean. The ocean is vast, and we still know very little about it. Just a small fragment of the ocean has been explored, and new species are being discovered frequently.

What we do know is that the ocean is an important marine habitat for a wide variety of unique and wonderful creatures. Some live in shallow waters, near land masses, where sunlight and nutrient upwellings create ideal conditions for plants and algae. Others live in the deepest ocean, and are uniquely adapted to this cold, dark and low-oxygen environment.

We also know that the ocean plays a critical role in the basic functioning of our planet, and that nearly one billion people around the globe rely on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods. Protecting the ocean’s delicate ecosystem is, therefore, not just essential for marine biodiversity, but for all life on Earth.

What are the main marine habitats?

The majority of marine life is concentrated along the continental shelves – the shallow waters surrounding the major land masses. This sunlight- and nutrient-rich environment is perfect for allowing plants and algae to thrive, which in turn support vast food chains – from tiny zooplankton to the mighty blue whale.

Around the tropics, we find coral reefs – one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet. Despite occupying just 1% of the seabed, coral reefs support more than a quarter of all marine life.

Mangrove forests are another critical marine habitat and are a central area of Fauna & Flora’s marine work. Mangrove habitats are home to numerous coastal and marine species, particularly juvenile fish and aquatic mammals, such as manatees and dolphins. Hailed a blue carbon hero, mangrove trees also support climate change mitigation efforts by sequestering and storing carbon at an incredibly efficient rate. They play an important role in climate adaptation too, forming a crucial two-way natural barrier between the ocean and coastal settlements.

Seagrass meadows are one of the most valuable ecosystems on the planet. They absorb up to 35 times more carbon than tropical forests, nurture a wealth of marine life and enrich the water with oxygen.

How are marine habitats under threat?

The marine environment is in crisis. Habitat destruction, pollution, overfishing, climate change and ocean acidification are all taking their toll – not only threatening the biodiversity that depends on this environment, but affecting coastal communities that rely on the ocean for their livelihoods, and diminishing the ocean’s ability to help us mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Fauna & Flora’s work to protect marine biodiversity

Fauna & Flora has been protecting and restoring marine habitats for decades. Today, we have a dedicated marine team, and our projects span the Americas, Eurasia, Africa, and Asia-Pacific regions.

  • Our marine programme has three key pillars:
    Safeguarding marine species and habitats through effective local management
  • Tackling the wider threats to marine ecosystems through improved policy and practice
  • Strengthening the ability of local and national organisations (including community-based organisations) to protect their marine environments
Hawksbill turtle. © Ally Catterick / Fauna & Flora

Hawksbill turtle. © Ally Catterick / Fauna & Flora

Surveying Hawksbill turtles in Nicaragua.

Coral symphony – A new record for Cambodia
Frame from video footage showing coral reef synchronised spawning in Cambodia. © Sorn Srenh / Koh Sdach Commune
News

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Fauna & Flora Cambodia - Protecting Sea Turtles video screenshot
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Redonda Restoration Programme
Project

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Antigua and Barbuda
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Conservation Impact Report 2022
Diving picture of Mediterranean monk seal, Gokova Bay Turkey. © Zafer Kizilkaya
Publication

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Asia-Pacific
Eurasia
Leatherback turtle
Turtle. © Doug Perrine / Nature Picture Library
Species

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Protecting Cambodia’s coastal and marine environments
Underwater in Cambodia. Credit: Paul Colley
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Cambodia
People & the environment
Supporting community-based conservation in Scotland
Gullane Beach. © Lizzie Duthie / Fauna & Flora
Project

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Scotland
Climate change
Habitat destruction
Invasive species
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Plastic pollution
Resource extraction
Implementing effective marine resource co-management in Tanzania
Participatory Markets System Development (PMSD) Workshop. Pemba, Tanzania. © Timur Jack-Kadioglu / Mwambao Coastal Community Network
Project

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Tanzania
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Tackling marine plastic pollution
© whitcomberd/Adobe Stock
Page

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Conserving ‘ridge to reef’ in Papua, Indonesia
© Fibrian Yusefa Ardi / Fauna & Flora
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Indonesia
Climate change
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Illegal wildlife trade
People & the environment
Safeguarding our ocean
Fisher in seagrass (Enhalus acoroides) Sanur, Bali, Indonesia. © Ben Jones / Ocean Image Bank
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Hawksbill turtle
Hawksbill turtle. © Ollie / Adobe Stock
Species

Hawksbill turtle

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