On April 3, 2021, Cyclone Seroja hit 21 regencies/cities in East Nusa Tenggara Province. According to the Meteorology and Climatology Agency (Badan Meteorologi Klimatologi or BMKG), the velocity of this Cyclone Seroja reached 75 km/hour. This hurricane triggered flash floods, landslides, and gales that caused damage to facilities and infrastructures. Aside from material losses, this hurricane also impacted the condition of coral reefs in this area, damaging its ecological function and threatening the economic function, which would inflict a financial loss on coastal communities, especially fishers and seaweed farmers.
With regards to this event, the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (Kementerian Kelautan dan Perikanan or KKP), through the Kupang National Marine Conservation Area Office (Balai Kawasan Konservasi Perairan Nasional or Balai KKPN), supported Yayasan Konservasi Alam Nusantara (YKAN) in conducting early surveys on April 22 – 29, 2021, to observe coral reefs’ post-disaster condition, including identifying the damages and changes to the coral reefs spread from the baseline data.
“These coral reefs’ post-disaster condition surveys are important to be done because the impacted areas include marine conservation areas that have high biodiversity. The results of these surveys would give an illustration for necessary steps to ensure that the condition of Savu Sea Marine National Park could recover fast,” said TB Haeru Rahayu, Director General Marine Spatial Management.
Meanwhile, Imam Fauzi, Head of Kupang BKKPN, explained that quick surveys were conducted in 19 location points of surrounding waters in Kupang City, Kupang Regency, and Rote Ndao Regency. “These surveys were conducted using mapping method by drone to quickly observe damages on coral reefs with a high spatial coverage and a belt transect method on the reef edges and reef flats through direct observation by snorkeling to get the information about coral reef damages,” he explained.
Surveys’ results showed a strong indication that Cyclone Seroja has caused quite massive damage to coral reefs even though the damages were not spread evenly in all locations. From seven coral reefs locations in Kupang Bay and the surrounding waters, the waters around Kuanheum and Lifuleo were not impacted by Cyclone Seroja. Waters around Alak and Nitneo received medium damages, and the coral reefs in waters around Kelapa Lima, Pasir Panjang, and Namosain were heavily impacted.
Meanwhile, surveys’ results from 12 locations in Rote Ndao Regency showed that waters around Sedeoen, Mbueain, Pulau Nuse, Faifua, Papela, and Tesabela were not impacted. Waters around Maubesi, Sotimori, and Siomeda received medium damages, and waters around Tolama, Dengka, and Tua Natuk were heavily impacted.
With regards to those quick surveys’ results, Rusydi, a marine expert from Muhammadiyah University, Kupang, explained that the massive damages were marked by the high quantity of massive reefs, branched reefs, and foliose reefs that were spread and stacked, which formed an elongated mound along the coastline with a certain area. For instance, in the waters of Tolama to Tuanatuk, the elongated mound is approximately 8 kilometers in length and approximately 1 – 3 meters from the seafloor. In the most impacted areas, there were almost no living reefs in the radius of approximately 10 meters from the coral mound.
“The follow-up action from these surveys is a data analysis to support a more detailed study of the Cyclone Seroja’s impacts to the coral reef ecosystems. As an archipelagic country with high natural disaster threats, this study is very necessary for designing national coral reef ecosystem post-disaster management steps,” said Muhammad Ilman, YKAN Ocean Program Director.
Tentang Balai Kawasan Konservasi Perairan Nasional Kupang
Balai KKPN Kupang adalah Unit Pelaksana Teknis dari Kementrian Kelautan dan Perikanan. Balai KKPN Kupang dibentuk sejak 2007 dan mulaiberoperasi di tahun 2008. Wilayah kerja Balai KKPN Kupang meliputi Kawasan Konservasi Perairan Nasional wilayah Indonesia Timur (Sulawesi Tenggara, Sulawesi Barat, Sulawesi Tengah, Sulawesi Selatan, Gorontalo, Nusa Tenggara Timur, Nusa Tenggara Barat, Maluku, Maluku Utara, Papua, Papua Barat) sesuai dengan Permen KP Nomor PER.24/MEN/2011 termasuk Taman Nasional Perairan Laut Sawu yang merupakan Kawasan Konservasi Perairan terbesar di Segitiga Karang Dunia.
Yayasan Konservasi Alam Nusantara (YKAN) is a scientific-based non-profit organization that has been present in Indonesia since 2014. With the mission of protecting lands and waters as life support systems, we provide innovative solutions to realize the harmony of nature and humans through effective natural resource management, prioritizing a non-confrontational approach, and building a network of partnerships with all stakeholders for a sustainable Indonesia. For more information, visit ykan.or.id.