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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

From Octopus' Garden to Coral Cemetary


JAKARTA - Coral gardens that were among Asia's most spectacular just a few months ago have been transformed into desolate grey moonscapes by illegal fishermen who use explosives or cyanide to kill or stun their prey.

The site is among several to have been hit inside Komodo National Park in eastern Indonesia. The area's remote waters burst with staggering diversity, from corals in fluorescent reds and yellows to octopuses with lime-green banded eyes.

Dive operators and conservationists say Indonesia's government is not doing enough to keep illegal fishermen out of the boundaries of the national park, a United Nations World Heritage site. They say enforcement declined greatly following the exit two years ago of a United States-based environmental group that helped fight destructive fishing practices.

Local officials disagree, pointing to dozens of arrests and several deadly gunbattles with suspects.

Michael Ishak, a scuba instructor and professional underwater photographer who has made hundreds of trips to the area, said he's seen more illegal fishermen than ever this year. The pictures, he said, speak for themselves. AP

Please visit to see startling pictures of the devastation.

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