One of the world's newest nations, Timor Leste's incredible natural biodiversity is only now coming to the world's attention... a new book shows just how rich it is.
Timor Leste is fast emerging as one of the jewels of the Coral Triangle - its coastal waters home to a rich tapestry of marine species, including some of the highest reef fish and coral diversity on the planet. Located between Indonesia and Australia, Timor Leste lies in the eastern reaches of the Coral Triangle. It is one of the world's newest nations, having gained its independence from Indonesia in 2002 after a long standing conflict.
It's only in recent years that Timor Leste's uniqueness has really come to light, in particular the waters around Atauro Island, which according to scientists from Conservation International may be home to the highest levels of reef fish biodiversity on the planet.
Timor Leste is unique geologically too - neither Timor Leste or sister island Atauro was ever attached to a landmass, both were pushed up by tectonic activity. That means you get fringing reefs with sudden drop offs plunging to depths of thousands of metres. As a result, whales migrate close to the islands in the deeper waters just offshore and there are significant domestic populations.
A new book by Gerardo C Angelo, an engineer and nature enthusiast who spent many years in Timor Leste, documents this biodiversity - both terrestrial and marine. "Timor Leste: From the Sea to the Mountains" takes us on an in-depth photographic journey through the nature of this country and its rich ecosystems. Seven years in the making, the book includes photographs of more than 900 species of fish, molluscs, crustaceans and other marine animals, in their natural habitats in the waters of Timor-Leste, as well as more than 100 species of birds, reptiles and mammals, many of them endemic.
It is also an account of the experiences, often adventurous, of travelling to some of the most secluded places in the nation. Aimed at raising awareness of this exceptional biological richness and at fostering engagement with conservation efforts, both locally and abroad, Timor Leste: From the Seas to the Mountains is also an invaluable resource for scuba divers, birdwatchers and the academic community.
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