North Sulawesi-Halmahera, Indonesia

Halmahera, Indonesia Photo
©Fakhrizal Setizwan

Lying at the gateway to the Pacific Ocean and the center of the Coral Triangle—between the Bird’s Head Seascape to the east and Sulawesi Sea to the west—the North Suluwesi-Halmahera Seascape of Indonesia encompasses more than 770 square miles of coral reef ecosystems. The area’s atolls, lagoons, and seagrass meadows abound with marine life. The region is believed to harbor a large number of endemic marine species and undoubtedly holds some of the Coral Triangle’s highest coral reef diversity. Even so, its waters remain largely undocumented by science and lack formal protection.

Fast Facts

  • The Coral Triangle is world-renowned for its coastal and marine biodiversity, which includes 70 genera of corals and about 2,500 fish species, representing 70 percent of all fish species known to the western Indo-Pacific.
  • Still abundant coastal fishing grounds support a healthy fishing industry for the seascape’s nearly 3 million inhabitants.
  • The Coral Triangle region is estimated to generate more than $2 billion per year in revenues and supports more than 120 million people who depend on its resources for food and employment.
  • Some corals in this region may be more than 1,000 years old.


Various pressures on the region’s terrestrial and coastal ecosystems, especially coral reefs, include infrastructure development, agriculture, forestry, mining, destructive fishing practices, pollution, and over-fishing. These challenges are compounded by inadequate management systems and global threats, such as ocean acidification and warming and sea level rise. Together, these pressures threaten not only biodiversity and ecosystem integrity but also the health and livelihoods of the coastal communities that depend on them.

WCS Responds

In North Sulawesi, WCS is helping to bolster four community-based Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in concert with resource managers, local communities, and a range of stakeholders. Together we are reviewing management needs and priorities, assisting in the revision of management plans, and designing adaptive management strategies. We have also developed a Reef Resilience Database for MPAs across Indonesia, which includes interactive tools for use by MPA managers and practitioners in marine conservation. 

WCS field scientists carried out initial surveys in late 2007 in the Kayoa Islands off southwestern Halmahera in conjunction with the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University. 

WCS is assisting the Department of Marine Fisheries-DKP, the provincial government of North Maluku, and the district government of South Halmahera to build capacity by conducting underwater monitoring, socio-economic surveys, management effectiveness analyses, and data analysis and interpretation.

From the Newsroom

In Indonesia, a New Law Protects Manta RaysFebruary 19, 2014

Ray populations in Indonesia face serious threats from overfishing, but recently the government has taken action to ensure their future.

A Map for Reef ReliefAugust 12, 2011

WCS marine scientists provide a color code for coral conservation by mapping out the stress loads of the world's reefs.

New Hope for Coral TriangleMay 18, 2009

WCS applauds the launching of the Coral Triangle Initiative at a summit in Indonesia. The leaders of six nations will work together to save this marine biodiversity jewel.

~/media/Images/wcs org/forms/please donate to help conservation.png
Stay in touch with WCS and receive the latest news.

Where We Work