Somalia - June 3rd, 2009
Somalia is the African country with the longest national coastline, at 3025 km, with an estimated shelf area (depth 0–200 m) of 32 500 km2.
From Ras Caseyr to the Kenya border, the coast runs north-east to south-west. An important feature found along the southern Somali shoreline is the Bajuni Archipelago in the Indian Ocean.
This archipelago consists of islands, islets and skerries, forming a barrier island separated from the coast by a narrow marine sound, from Kismayu to Ras Kiyamboni.
They lie at the northern end of a string of reefs which also include Zanzibar and Pemba. There are six main islands: Chandra, Chovaye, Chula (the only island with a significant population), Koyama, Darakasi and Ngumi.
Areas such as this along the southern Somali coast form part of the Somali Current Large Marine Ecosystem, encompassing 700 000 km2, and extending 800 km between Dar es Salaam and Ras Hafun. Abundant biomass develops here due to upwelling.
The shelf area has a wide variety of coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass meadows, beaches and estuaries. In shallow water areas the abraded flats are colonized by scattered coral communities with variable cover. A true fringing reef is achieved in places only in the Bajuni Archipelago, and around the Bajuni barrier island there is more diversity.
Large-scale alteration produced by man on the Somali coast is relatively recent, but has accelerated in the last few decades, especially around major cities. This alteration affects especially backshore areas where the Pleistocene coral reefs are quarried.
At present, the continental shelf is not adequately monitored or protected, so coastal habitats are being degraded, living marine resources are overexploited, and pollution levels are increasing, all of which affect natural resources and biodiversity, reports the Marine Pollutin Bulletin.