Weh Island—locally known as "Sabang"—is a small, active volcanic island off Aceh, a state on the northwestern tip of Sumatra, Indonesia. Situated at the convergence of the Indian and Pacific oceans, the coral reefs around Weh teem with a great diversity of fish species. The island’s beaches are a haven for nesting sea turtles, and its waters are full of healthy populations of whale sharks, manta rays, dolphins, and reef sharks.
Fast Facts Aceh is Indonesia’s westernmost state. A rare megamouth shark—so known for its enormous mouth with rubbery lips—was found washed up on Weh Island’s shore in 2004. There have only been 36 findings of megamouth sharks in the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic oceans since the species was discovered in 1976. Weh is the only known home to a threatened species of toad, Bufo valhallae. Following the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004, WCS conducted one of the first on-the-ground ecological assessments of the state of the coral reefs off northwestern Sumatra’s coast.
Challenges ISLAND Weh and Aceh are located in the Andaman Sea, which was greatly affected by the December 2004 earthquake and tsunami. The catastrophe destroyed mangroves in the region and washed debris from the land onto the reefs. Other threats to the reefs include destructive fishing practices, such as the use of dynamite and cyanide, and a marine predator, the crown-of-thorns starfish, which can cause widespread damage to corals during periodic population outbreaks. WCS Responds WCS has worked in Indonesia since 1965. We are now working with partners to create a network of marine protected areas (MPAs) designed with community support to protect the outstanding coral reefs and marine wildlife of the Aceh-Weh Seascape. Proposed MPAs include some of the healthiest coral reefs in northern Aceh, turtle nesting beaches, and populations of whale sharks, manta rays, dolphins, and reef sharks.
WCS and our partners continue to monitor the coral reefs around Aceh that were damaged by the tsunami. These reefs have shown strong signs of resilience and stunning recovery of due to the commitment that local communities have made to manage their marine resources.
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