Definitions

Indo-Pacific

Indo-Pacific

[in-doh-puh-sif-ik]

The Indo-Pacific is a biogeographic region of the earth's seas, comprising the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean, the western and central Pacific Ocean, and the seas connecting the two in the general area of Indonesia. It does not include the temperate and polar regions of the Indian and Pacific oceans, and the Tropical Eastern Pacific, along the Pacific coast of the Americas, is also a distinct marine realm.

The term is especially useful in marine biology, ichthyology, and similar fields, since many marine habitats are continuously connected from Madagascar to Japan and Oceania, and a number of species occur over that range, but are not found in the Atlantic Ocean.

Subdivisions

The WWF and Nature Conservancy divide the Indo-Pacific into three realms (or subrealms), and each of these into a number of marine provinces.

Western Indo-Pacific

The Western Indo-Pacific realm covers the western and central portion of the Indian Ocean, including the East coast of Africa, the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal, and Andaman Sea.

Central Indo-Pacific

The Central Indo-Pacific includes the numerous seas and straits connecting the Indian and Pacific oceans, including the seas surrounding the Indonesian archipelago (with the exception of Sumatra's northwest coast, which is part of the Western Indo-Pacific), the South China Sea, the Philippine Sea, the north coast of Australia, and the seas surrounding New Guinea, western and central Micronesia, New Caledonia, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, and Tonga. The Central Indo-Pacific, due in part to its central location at the meeting of two oceans, has the greatest diversity of corals and mangroves.

Eastern Indo-Pacific

The Eastern Indo-Pacific surrounds the mostly volcanic islands of the central Pacific Ocean, extending from the Marshall Islands through central and southeastern Polynesia to Easter Island and Hawaii.

References

  • Spalding, Mark D., Helen E. Fox, Gerald R. Allen, Nick Davidson et al. "Marine Ecoregions of the World: A Bioregionalization of Coastal and Shelf Areas". Bioscience Vol. 57 No. 7, July/August 2007, pp. 573-583.

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