World Oceans Day Hope Spot Celebration for Timor Leste’s Ombai Wetar Straits

On World Oceans Day 2020 we are celebrating the newly designated Ombai-Wetar Strait Hope Spot in Timor Leste. Earth Island’s Shark Stewards partnered in the nomination of this international recognition for the northern waters of Timor-Leste. Developed by Mission Blue’s Director and marine scientist Dr. Sylvia Earle, Hope Spots are special places critical to the health of the ocean that recognize, empower, and support local communities and governments around the world in their efforts to protect the ocean.

The uplifted limestone cliffs near Bacau hosts crystal clear waters and crocodiles photo David McGuire

Shark Stewards, a Hope Spot partner with the Timor Leste Association of Marine Tourism*, is working to stop commercial shark fishing in the Coral Triangle, a roughly triangular area of the tropical marine waters of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste that contain at least 600 species of reef fish and 500 species of reef-building corals in each ecoregion. The Ombai-Wetar Strait is an Important Marine Mammal Area and major migration corridor for large whales, pelagic sharks, sea turtles, and other marine megafauna in the western Indo-Pacific.

The Coral Triangle’s youngest nation, Timor Leste is embracing sustainable tourism and conservation. Photo David McGuire

We would like to thanks His Honor Jose Ramos Jorta, Peter Semone USAID, and the ATM including Dr. Karen Edyvane, Timor Blue and our fellow divers Atuaro Dive Resort, Aquatica Dive Center, Kevin Austin MV Aturao, COMPASS diving, Dreamers Dive Academy, Dive Timor Lorosae, Blue Endeavors, Atuaro, Mario’s Homestay, Barry’s Place and the people of Atauro who so generously hosted us and supported our shark and reef assessment. We are grateful to the leadership of Dr. Earle and support of the entire Mission Blue Team for this Hope Spot recognition. We hope to return in the fall of 2020!