Triton eating starfish New Caledonia
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Panoramic photo by Richard Chesher PRO EXPERT MAESTRO Taken 00:03, 21/08/2010 - Views loading...

Triton eating starfish New Caledonia

The World > Pacific Ocean Islands > Melanesia > New Caledonia

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Triton shell charonia tritonisThe Triton Shell, Charonia tritonis, is one of the most valuable and famous sea shells in the world. The triton shell appears on ancient greek pottery, it features in the mythology of the island people around the tropical world, it is made into trumpets used even today for island celebrations or sometimes blown as a warning of approaching danger.

Triton shells are found in rather large but decreasing numbers in shell shops and shell factories where they are wholesaled to thousans of gift shops in tropical countries. The lovely triton is often seen as doorstops, book ends, and on the shelves and cabinets of shell collectors - killed, cleaned, and displayed with affection because of it's beauty.

The starfish is also extremely valuable to the coral reef ecosytems of our planet. It feeds on starfish, and critically, it feeds on the Crown of Thorns Starfish. The Crown of Thorns starfish Acanthaster planci eats living coral. It is a normal part of the coral reef ecosystem but these days, with the multitude of stresses on coral reefs, it sometimes get out of control and devours reefs like a cancer. This is a very small triton, only about the size of my hand, but it is already eating starfish. In this photo it is eating a starfish that isn't dangerous to coral, but it would happily go after a small crown of thorns if there had been one around. Fortunately this coral reef, just off the tiny island of Mbe Kouen on the barrier reef of New Caledonia, is still healthy and thriving.

And just behind the triton you will see a small Giant Clam, Tridacna derasa. A much larger species, Tridacna gigas, used to live in New Caledonia until about 100 years ago when the last of them were eaten. I was especially happy to find this specimen of Tridacna derasa because it was the very first one I had found alive in New Caledonia. I was beginning to think they, too, had become extinct here. Tridacna derasa is in danger of extinction everywhere in it's range. To find out why read the story about the Giant Clam Sanctuaries in Tonga.

Want to come see this living reef, part of the New Caledonia World Heritage Site? Get a copy of the Cruising Guide to New Caledonia or the Rocket Travel Guide to New Caledonia to find out just how to do it.

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Nearby images in New Caledonia

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A: New Caledonia Coral Reef Diversity

by Richard Chesher, 20 meters away

This is a lush, thriving coral reef near Ilot Mbe Kouen, just inside of New Caledonia's Great Barrier...

New Caledonia Coral Reef Diversity

B: Coral Reef Garden New Caledonia Mbe

by Richard Chesher, 300 meters away

Ilot Mbe Kouen is just 12 nautical miles west of Noumea, New Caledonia. It is a tiny lagoon islet - m...

Coral Reef Garden New Caledonia Mbe

C: Deserted Island Beach New Caledonia Mbe Kouen

by Richard Chesher, 440 meters away

Now here is your iconic deserted island. A spec of sand with one solitary palm tree (still not very g...

Deserted Island Beach New Caledonia Mbe Kouen

D: Areal Lagoon Isle Mbe Kouen

by Richard Chesher, 570 meters away

Ilot Mbe Kouen is a little island just inside the New Caledonia Great Barrier Reef. In fact, if you l...

Areal Lagoon Isle Mbe Kouen

E: Red Sea Fan, Octopus and Ilot Mbe Kouen

by Richard Chesher, 910 meters away

Ilot Mbe Kouen is a miniscule dot of white sand with a touch of green and a solitary palm tree; just ...

Red Sea Fan, Octopus and Ilot Mbe Kouen

F: New Caledonia underwater panorama Ilot Mbo

by Richard Chesher, 3.0 km away

In 2008 the shallow coral reef on the eastern side of Ilot Mbo was alive and thriving. This underwate...

New Caledonia underwater panorama Ilot Mbo

G: New Caledonia Marine Reserve Ilot Signal

by Richard Chesher, 8.3 km away

Ilot Signal became a special marine reserve in 1989. It protects the island, the plants, the birds, a...

New Caledonia Marine Reserve Ilot Signal

H: Crown of Thorns starfish Acanthaster planci New Calledonia

by Richard Chesher, 8.3 km away

The Crown of Thorns Starfish, Acanthaster planci, is one of the largest starfish found on the coral r...

Crown of Thorns starfish Acanthaster planci New Calledonia

I: Ilot Signal Marine Reserve New Caledonia

by Richard Chesher, 8.4 km away

Ilot Signal, also called Ilot Te Ndu, is part of the Southern Lagoon park, a network of protected mar...

Ilot Signal Marine Reserve New Caledonia

J: Pontoon New Caledonia Coral Reef

by Richard Chesher, 9.2 km away

12 nautical miles west of Noumea there is a pontoon with underwater viewing ports and a swimming plat...

Pontoon New Caledonia Coral Reef

This panorama was taken in New Caledonia

This is an overview of New Caledonia

New Caledonia is the closest South Pacific Island to Australia and New Zealand. It is a French Territory and although the official language is French the culture is a blend of Melanesian, European, Polynesian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Indonesian, and more. There is one large mountainous island called Grande Terre and 6 smaller islands - the three Loyalty Islands, Belep and the Isle of Pines.

The islands are remarkably unpopulated and there are vast areas of wilderness. There are hundreds of kilometers of walking treks, camp grounds, more than 42 parks and reserves, and crystal clear rivers with sparkling waterfalls. Almost one third of the population is located in the capital city of Noumea. Nickel mining is the primary industry and is the major contributor to the high standard of living in the country. Grande Terre is surrounded by the second largest barrier reef in the world and the protected lagoon created by this barrier reef is the largest in the world. Listed as a World Heritage Site in 2008, the lagoon is 24,000 square kilometers and supports a diverse and luxuriant fauna of fish and invertebrates.

The vibrant, clear and rich colors are one of the first things that visitors notice when they arrive. Noumea has a complete range of hotels, resorts, restaurants, and activities to welcome visitors.

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